The Twin Otter Experience: Flying from Kuching to Mukah & Back
“You are flying to Mukah just for the sake of being on the Twin Otter plane?”
That was the exact question that was asked to me by a fellow passenger of flight MH3411 from Kuching to Mukah. As much as it sounds like a crazy idea, it is the absolute truth. I flew all the way to Kuching, stayed a night in the city and flew to Mukah and back to Kuching on the same day just for the sake of flying on the Twin Otter!
Yes, it’s true.
As a self-acclaimed aviation enthusiast, I always have the desire to fly on different kind of planes. For many years, I have travelled on different kind of planes mainly on the Boeing 737, 747,777 (MAS), ATR72 (Firefly) and A320 (Air Asia). It is exciting but after a while I want something different. Knowing that MAS might in the future phase out its older Twin Otter from the Rural Air Services in Sabah and Sarawak, I knew that I had to act fast to be on one of the flights.
After postponing a few times, I finally managed to get time off from work that matches great deal from Firefly (to fly me from KL to Kuching) and MASwings (for the Twin Otter flight Kuching – Mukah – Kuching). MASwings website is quite user-friendly and within minutes I managed to purchase the tickets for my Twin Otter adventure. The funny thing is that I can choose my seat when i purchase the ticket while in reality twin otter flights are all free-seating!
After a few weeks of waiting, it’s finally the DAY! After putting a night in Kuching, I was super excited to be at the airport an hour before the flight. MASWings has implemented self-service check-ins for all its flights. However for Rural Air Services, passengers still have to line-up at the bag-drop counter for a normal check-in.
I was asked to stand on top of the baggage conveyor for my weight to be calculated. A standard operating procedure for Twin Otter flights for load and balance purposes but for those that do not know would probably think that I was crazy to be standing together with the check-in bags!
For the flight from Kuching to Mukah, there was only 12 passengers out of the possible 19. I was the first one to be at Gate “R” in Kuching International Airport.
The Twin Otter assigned for the flight 9M-MDM arrived in Kuching on-time after doing the Tanjung Manis morning flight allowing for our flight to be as per scheduled. Any delay to the Kuching – Mukah or Mukah-Kuching flight could spell disaster to me as I had a return flight to KL on the same day!
Boarding was done in the simplest manner. The ground crew just mentioned the word “Mukah” and all 12 passengers showed the boarding pass and walked towards the plane.
As expected, it was love at a first sight. I just love this DeHavilland Twin Otter (DHC-6) beast! 9M-MDM.
The Twin Otter is an old aircraft. It may not be as sexy as modern airliners, but it has its own charm. A quick Google on this plane and you’ll know that the Twin Otter aircraft is being used in the most challenging terrains in the world. Do not be fooled by its run down interior, this baby has a rugged design that ensures many years of reliable service.
We took off on time. A short take-off run on the runway and within seconds we were already steadily climbing to the altitude of about 10,000 feet.
Great view despite the cloudy weather.
While other passengers started to take a nap, I could not stop clicking my cameras. I was really a ‘jakun’ traveller that wanted to capture every single detail.
The pilots at work.
Being seated in 1A allowed me to take a peek at the cockpit (doors was not closed throughout the flight). The Garmin GPS gave me an indication on the distance to Mukah. (Thank you Microsoft Flight Simulator!) hahaha
The overhead panel
Back to the cabin. The safety card and air sickness bag.
The cabin fan.
We landed in Mukah on-time and within 2 minutes of touching down, all passengers were already disembarked
The ground agents at Mukah transferring the check-in luggage.
I spent 5 hours in Mukah (blog post about Mukah will be shared separately). After the fun time in Mukah, it was time to fly back to Kuching.
A closer look at the Mukah STOLport. STOL = Short-Take-Off-and-Landing. See the weighing machine? Both passengers and bags have to go on top of it. Also the classic baggage collection.
Where else can you snap a photo of an airport that has the plane, the terminal, the passengers and few cars in one shot?
A quick goodbye to a fellow airport staff before I left for Kuching.
The flight back to Kuching was full load as the earlier flights got cancelled due to AOG. Weather was excellent as the rain just stopped.
9M-MDK has a newer cabin with better seats and no more old-school fan.
Beautiful blue-sky as we left Mukah.
The pilots decided to shut the door.
Back in Kuching.
One for the album!
Alhamdulillah, with the completion of the flight, I had achieve my 2011 aviation resolution to try the Rural Air Service in particular the Twin Otter flight. While Mukah might not be the best STOLport destination in terms of tourism, it has the longest Twin Otter routes. The 2 hours in the plane (1 hour each way) gave me the satisfaction that I was lookingfor I am glad that I made the trip and I now have travelled on every single type of planes operated by MAS, Air Asia and Firefly!
What’s next? Perhaps the MAS A380 inaugural flight? I really hope so!
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