Back row left to right: Capt (Rtd) Noorizan (ex-Gerakhas: Video cameraman); Lt Ahmad Ramli Kardi (PASKAL); Maj Amran (PASKAU); S/Sgt Abdul Rahim Dahlan (ex-GGK: Expedition Leader); Capt (Rtd) Rahmat (ex-PASKAU: Assistant Jump Leader); Lt (Rtd) A Aziz Ahmad (ex-PASKAU: Jump Leader)
Front row left to right: Petty Officer Idros (PASKAL); Sgt Maznan (GGK); Maj Kamaruddin (PASKAU: Video cameraman); Noordziah Md Noor (MPF); Cpl Hazamuzakar (VAT 69); Lt Ahmed (GGK); Cpl Ramli (VAT 69); LAC Sulaiman (PASKAU)
Missing: Mohd Shamsul and Ramli Mat Idin (Wilayah Sports Parachuting Club)
Based at the National Sports Council from 7th March 1998, we began training jumps on the 8th March 2007 at the Titiwangsa Lake Gardens with the aim of harnessing cooperation between the various team members. There were current and ex-members of the Gerup Gerak Khas (Army Commando – GGK), Pasukan Kawalan Laut (Navy Commando – PASKAL), Pasukan Khas TUDM (Air Force Commando – PASKAU), Komando 69 or VAT 69 (Police Commando), Malaysian Parachuting Federation, and the Wilayah Sports Parachuting Club. During this initial training, Lt Ahmad Ramli Kardi of PASKAL had to cutaway his malfunctioned main parachute to deploy his reserve at 2000 feet, or 10 seconds to impact. He landed safely on a fairway of the Titiwangsa Police Golf Club. The jumps were conducted using a Aerospatiale AS-350 Ecureuil helicopter from 6,000 feet.
The second training jumps sessions were conducted at the Royal Malaysian Air Force Base (RMAFB) Kuala Lumpur, off Sungai Besi, on Saturday, 15th March 1998. The morning session was televised live over TV3. The jumps were conducted from a Britten-Norman Islander BN-2B aircraft at heights between 6,000 to 8,000 feet above ground level.
I still remember how tired I was after the training that I crashed my Proton Saga into the back of a stationary truck while my eyes were open.
During the weekdays Aziz, Rahim and I were mostly at Seri Pentas (TV3) for administrative purposes together with the secretariat, while the rest attended mental preparation classes conducted by the Biro Tata Negara (BTN).
Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir (now Tun), the then-Prime Minister of Malaysia launched the expedition at the RMAFB Kuala Lumpur on the 29th March 1998. 5 days later we were on a plane Moscow-bound for acclimatisation training, and preparation for final assault on the North Pole itself.
I remember I did not have the opportunity to visit my daughters, Hana and Fazira, who then lived with their mother in Kedah, as I was tied-up with training and administrative matters. So I wrote them a long letter that I passed to the Rear Secretariat, to be delivered to them in case I did not make it back to Malaysia alive.
Yes, when I went to the North Pole, I was prepared to die. We all were. I still remember the looks on each of the team members’ family members’ face. It was a lot easier for me then, being single. The only thing that saddened me was, I was the only one who did not have anyone to see me off at the airport, and I could only speak to my daughters on the phone before boarding the KLM flight to Moscow via Amsterdam.
Luckily I had spent a whole week with them a week after Hari Raya.