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Jia Min's maiden flight

by Thiam Jia Min - 2005

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Crossing the Boundary

                “Niner Victor Bravo Oscar Oscar – Cleared for take-off,” the pilot, my dad, spoke into the scrawny black system he called ‘the radios’. The four-seater Piper Warrior of the Singapore Youth Flying Club sped down the runway with an exhilarating speed. The trees at the far end got horribly closer and closer and suddenly everything started to tilt at an angle.

                I had acrophobia. The trip had started as a trip to hell. This trip was to be an important mile-stone. It would test my resolve to cross my mental boundary of the fear of heights. My knuckles turned white from gripping at my seat-belt.

                Within seconds, we were truly air-borne. For the first time in my fourteen years, I was no longer earth-bound. We had literally crossed the dimension of space. I knew for sure that I had indeed crossed my own mental boundary with this trip.

                It had not been easy getting me into the seat of the Piper. To conquer acrophobia, I had to make myself believe it could and had to be done. I believed I could fly. I believed I could touch the sky and I had been dreaming about it every night and day, just like the popular song “I believe I can fly’ goes, except I was not spreading my wings. The plane was.

                Nonetheless, we soared into the clear blue sky. It was a limitless azure sky with no cumulonimbus clouds. I felt impossibly numb as well as euphoric. I felt free like a bird in the wind, traveling the course nature has planned out for me.

                Minutes seemed like seconds as we soared to greater heights with each passing moment. The roads, buildings and land were shrinking fast. Soon, we were so high up that I could fit Singapore into my palm. The coastlines and landmarks were all so tiny, yet visible. It was a sight of sheer magnificence. I was so overwhelmed by this majestic sight that I choked and almost cried. I was rendered quite speechless.

                I wondered how many other countries in the world could be viewed in its entirety at four thousand feet from the ground. It dawned on me that Singapore was indeed a frightfully small country. Singapore has been called ‘the little red dot’ for a plausible reason. Devoid of natural resources on such a small piece of land, there were many dilemmas and boundaries she has to cross, as an island country, to reach her current state. Indeed, the physical boundaries are insignificant compared to the political and economic constraints that challenged her existence. Yet over time, she has proven her ability to cope with setbacks and to overcome the boundaries limiting her progress. She has proven herself to the world that the sky is the limit.

                My dad pushed on to do the impossible on my maiden flight. He did a ‘roller-coaster’ drop. Strange enough, I actually enjoyed it. “Look to your right,” he said as he banked the plane to the right, “that is the Lower Pierce Reservior.” I saw the tiny patch of blue below. Its boundaries were clearly visible. I marvelled at its beauty in the bright sun and also the number of reservoirs Singapore has built to store water for her people.

                With the lack of water, Singapore has taken pains to explore alternatives that see her buying water across her physical boundary. She has built reservoirs and went on to create our very own ‘Newater’, a product of a high-technology filtration process. With the shortage of land, her boundaries are being expanded by land reclamation. To supplement local talent, our only resource, she has crossed her physical boundaries and foreign talent is imported. The list goes on.

                 The lack of natural resources has not made Singapore’s only resource, her people, any less resourceful. Thinking out of the box and coming up with creative solutions have become part of the game. Crossing nature’s boundaries and thinking out of the boundaries of her people’s mental constraints have become very much a part of every Singaporean’s way of life.

                As the plane navigated across the island, I felt a sudden surge of pride and inspiration. I was proud to be a Singaporean. As the plane began to descend, a thought crossed my mind. With sheer grit and determination, I had crossed my own mental boundary created by my fear of heights, just like my country had crossed many boundaries in the form of various constraints, to lead her people forward in the contemporary world. I intend to cross life’s many boundaries just like what my country is doing for her people. Weakness can be turned into strength as long as there is the will power to cross these boundaries. This way, we can then say we are living life to the fullest and with no regrets.

                The plane landed effortlessly. It was a perfect soft landing. My father gave the thumbs up. I was proud of him and he was proud of me. The flight could be described as both mentally and physically challenging. With this trip, I have not only overcome my fear of heights but most significantly, I have come to realise that indeed, with sheer will-power, the sky is indeed the limit.

                With the sky, there are no boundaries. Likewise, in life, we should not create unnecessary boundaries to stifle creative solutions to the many obstacles and challenges that come our way. Life is to be lived to the fullest, not to be stifled by the boundaries created by others or worse still, by ourselves.

Thiam Jia Min (age 14 at 2005)

P/S: Jia Min is the daughter of Col Max Thiam Boon Siong, who is in the Republic of Singapore Air Force. To complement his passion for flying, Col Thiam flies students on weekends as a special voluntary service to the Singapore Youth Flying Club to help cultivate the interest and passion in aviation among Singapore youths.

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