Profile recap: Pilots of MH370 Zaharie Ahmad Shah and Fariq Abdul Hamid
Published on Mar 17, 2014 11:04 PM
As the world's media zoom in on the latest investigation surrounding the pilots of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, here's a recap of what is known of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah and his co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid.
CAPT ZAHARIE AHMAD SHAH
Captain Zaharie, 53, a father of three, joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. He was certified by Malaysia's Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) as a simulator test examiner, according to Malaysia Airlines officials. He had 18,365 flying hours.
He is described by friends and colleagues as an "aviation geek", who built his own simulator at home.
CNN reported that Captain Zaharie had posted on German online forum, X-Sim.de, that he had built a flight simulator himself in November 2012.
"About a month ago I finish assembly of FSX and FS9 with six monitors", he wrote in a message signed "Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah BOEING 777 MALAYSIA AIRLINES".
FSX and FS9 were flight simulator games made by Microsoft that could be bought online. The simulator is being examined by investigators now.
In this video below which he created for his YouTube channel, he sits in front of the simulator as he talks about the topic "How to tune aircon to save electricity".
His YouTube channel shows that he was quite the DIY geek too, as he shares tips on topics like "How to service your own aircon units without hassle" and "How to repair a whirlpool icemaker" that was taken from his refrigerator.
Another video was on "How to waterproof window pane".
When he wasn't in the cockpit of a real Boeing 777, he was flying a toy version or other remote control aircraft in his collection.
Pictures have emerged of Captain Zaharie's collection on various social media sites and blogs. They include a remote-controlled version of the Bell 222, a lighweight twin-engined helicopter, and a toy Catalina PBY plane, an amphibious aircraft with the word 'RESCUE' painted on top of the aircraft.
Friends and family insist he was a 'good-hearted' man who loved nothing better than cooking up dishes from his native Penang.
Pictures have emerged of him cooking a tofu sambal and fish curry.
Former classmate Mohd Nasir Othman told The Star Online in Malaysia that Capt Zaharie prepared everything from the appetisers to desserts for his housewarming four years ago.
Now, a YouTube video tribute to Captain Zaharie - featuring older pictures of him and his family - is going viral.
To friends and family, Captain Zaharie is simply known as "Ari" or "Uncle Ari", as revealed here in this video tribute below.
There have also been tweets in support of him.
A father of three, Captain Zaharie's daughter - Aishah - who lives in Melbourne, Australia, has returned to her family in Malaysia as she awaits news, Australian news website news.com.au reported.
Ms Aishah, 27, graduated from Deakin University in Geelong in 2010 where she studied architecture, the site added.
Members of Australia's Malaysian community posted supportive messages, including this.
Stay strong Aishah Zaharie n family. . Pliz pray for MH370. Especially to my friend Aishah who's dad was the captain of the flight.— Muslihah Mazlan (@MuslihahMazlan) March 8, 2014
CO-PILOT FARIQ ABDUL HAMID
Mr Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, joined Malaysia Airlines at the age of 20, and studied piloting at a flight school on the Malaysian resort island of Langkawi.
Malaysia police are looking into possible pilot suicide, as it emerged that the last message from the cockpit - believed to be from co-pilot Fariq himself - came around the time that two of the plane’s crucial signalling systems were manually disabled. He told Malaysia air control "All right. good night" as the plane left Malaysian airspace. That plane turned back soon after.
An Australian television report made waves by broadcasting an interview with a young South African woman who said Mr Fariq and another pilot colleague had invited them into the cockpit of a flight he co-piloted from Phuket, Thailand to Kuala Lumpur in 2011.
Passengers have been prohibited from entering cockpits during flight since the 9/11 attacks on the United States. Malaysia Airlines said it was "shocked" by the reported security violation, but that it could not verify the claims.
Brief TV Fame
Mr Fariq had a brief brush with fame when he appeared in a CNN travel segment with the network's correspondent Richard Quest in February, in which Fariq helped fly a plane from Hong Kong to Kuala Lumpur.
The segment portrayed Mr Fariq's transition to piloting the Boeing 777-200 after 2,700 hours of flight experience and having completed training in a flight simulator.
"It was interesting to watch the way he brought the aircraft in to land," Quest said, according to the CNN website, calling Mr Fariq's technique "textbook-perfect".
His neighbourhood mosque's imam or spiritual leader, Ahmad Sharafi Ali Asrah, defended Fariq - the youngest son of Selangor public works department deputy director Abdul Hamid Mad Daud - as a mild-mannered "good boy" who also attended occasional Islamic courses.
It has also been widely reported that Mr Fariq often played futsal with neighborhood youngsters and even paid for their sports shirts.
Planing to marry
Mr Fariq was reportedly planning to marry a fellow pilot from another airline.
A report in the Sabah-based Daily Express said that Captain Nadira Ramli, 26, who is attached with AirAsia, is a daughter of a senior Malaysia Airlines pilot.
She is now with Mr Fariq's distraught mother at an undisclosed hotel in Kuala Lumpur.