RMAF’s first fighter pi­lot sib­lings spur each other

New Straits Times - - News -

LANGKAWI: Their love for mil­i­tary air­craft led two broth­ers from Kuala Lumpur to join the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

In fact, Cap­tain Muham­mad Zuhairi Iz­zat Zolke­ple, 28, and Cap­tain Muham­mad Zarif Ih­san, 27, have the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing RMAF’s first fighter pi­lot sib­lings.

Since child­hood, they have held on to the am­bi­tion of man­ning su­per­sonic jets, a mo­ti­va­tion that made them strive for the best in school so that they could join the air force.

To­day, Zuhairi is with the RMAF’s 18 Squadron, fly­ing the F/A-18D Hor­net, while Zarif flies the Sukhoi SU30-MKM Flanker in 11 Squadron.

Zuhairi said it all started with their fa­ther’s hobby, then an RMAF lo­gis­tic of­fi­cer, in col­lect­ing mil­i­tary air­craft mod­els and mag­a­zines.

“Our in­ter­est in jet fight­ers started when we were at a very young age — even be­fore we started pri­mary school — as our fa­ther, Ma­jor (Rtd) Zolke­ple Ayub, al­ways brought home air­craft mod­els, mag­a­zines and posters.

“He would take us to see air shows, in­clud­ing Lima (Langkawi In­ter­na­tional Mar­itime and Aero­space ex­hi­bi­tion). And when­ever he was free, he would bring us to see RMAF air­craft at which­ever base he was at­tached to at the time.

“Ever since then, we told our­selves that we must and will be­come fighter pi­lots,” he told the New Sun­day Times dur­ing Lima 2017 at Mah­suri In­ter­na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre here yes­ter­day.

Zuhairi, who is the el­dest of three sib­lings, said they stud­ied hard dur­ing pri­mary school at SK Men­jalara be­fore he was ac­cepted to Mara Ju­nior Science Col­lege (MRSM) Tran­skrian in Ni­bong Te­bal, Pe­nang, in 2001. Zarif joined MRSM Taip­ing the next year.

Zarif said al­though the broth­ers were close, they were also com­pet­i­tive in their stud­ies. When Zuhairi was ac­cepted to the RMAF Col­lege for a Di­ploma in Me­chan­i­cal Aero­nau­tics En­gi­neer­ing and pi­lot’s train­ing in

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