RMAF’s first fighter pilot siblings spur each other
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