BRUSH WITH DEATH

New Straits Times - - News -

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.

PIX BY DA­NIAL SAAD

Royal Malaysian Air Force’s Ma­jor No­razan Oth­man at the Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aero­space 2017 ex­hi­bi­tion yes­ter­day.

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