BRUSH WITH DEATH
The incident, however, has left a deep scar in the memory of his mother, Rapiah Hanapiah, 70, who, till today, is traumatised from watching Norazan’s aircraft descending to such a low altitude that it disappeared from her sight behind a hill not far from the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre.
Norazan, call sign Sting, said it was the first time his mother saw 2007, it made him even more determined.
“I was also accepted to join a year later, and as a junior, I could only watch my brother when he got the chance to fly the Pilatus PC7 training aircraft first. The wait to get to fly like him felt like forever,” he said.
When Zuhairi graduated in 2013, the air force did not have an intake for fighter pilots. He was deployed to the C130 Hercules squadron in Labuan for four months, before joining RMAF’s Flight Training School III (Pulatibang him flying the aircraft, and she could not forget the day she almost lost a son.
“The incident occurred when my aircraft engine had a problem, which forced me to make a recovery (manoeuvre) by flying very low... I went as low as 200 feet that time. It was obvious that there was something wrong.
“It was a close call, I would say. Alhamdulillah, the aircraft regained its thrust, and we landed safely. I believe that it was my mother’s prayers that saved my life,” he told the New Sunday Times during Lima 2017 at MIEC yesterday.
Norazan said Rapiah cried when she saw the Sukhoi disappear, fearing the worst.
“When I returned to my hometown in Kampung Lubuk Setol, my mother asked why I flew so low and said it really scared her.
“She never watches me fly III) in Kuantan.
By then, Zarif had also graduated and, together, they underwent fighter jet flight training on the Aermacchi MB339CM.
The brothers said they worked together during the 18-month training. They had discussions and did revisions together, especially in difficult subjects like flight instruments and navigation. They also got their chance to fly side-by-side during training.
“Our instructors were supportive. When we graduated, they again after that. Even today, she refused to come.”
Norazan said he did not tell Rapiah when he first applied to become a pilot with the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF). However, after being accepted, he immediately asked for his mother’s blessing.
Norazan’s wife, Madihah Murad, 37, who also hails from Kampung Lubuk Setol, said she had made the pilot promise to give her a call before every flight and shortly after landing.
“I always pray for his safety,” she said, adding that Norazan was the pride of their village as he was the first Langkawi boy to fly as a fighter pilot during Lima.
The housewife, who has four children aged between 4 and 12, said she only knew Norazan was a pilot when they got engaged. The marriage, in fact, was arranged by their two families. told us that they were proud to see us become the first siblings in RMAF to become fighter pilots.”
The brothers said they were thankful to their parents, who were supportive of their ambitions, as well as their instructors and comrades who helped them through thick and thin.
Now, with Zuhairi based in Butterworth and Zarif in Gong Kedak, Terengganu, the brothers said they only meet up once a month when they return to Kepong, or whenever their squadrons had exercises or events together.
Captain Muhammad Zuhairi Izzat Zolkeple (right), 28, and his brother Captain Muhammad Zarif Ihsan, 27, are the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s first fighter pilot siblings.
Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Major Norazan Othman at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace 2017 exhibition yesterday.