From Captain to Major: Memorable missions as pilot and instructor

Capt Muhammad Azlan with a RSAF Super Puma helicopter. PHOTO: MINDEF

SINGAPORE - Despite conducting multiple life-saving search and rescue missions, his first in 2012 will always be the most memorable for Super Puma pilot Captain Muhammad Azlan Latiff of 126 Squadron.

After rescuing an injured worker on board a merchant vessel in the South China Sea, Capt Azlan, 35, flew the worker, who was drifting in and out of consciousness, to Singapore General Hospital.

Receiving a letter of appreciation from the fully recovered worker is one of the many highlights in Capt Azlan's career with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) which began in 2007.

He was one of 647 service personnel promoted on Friday (June 26) by the Singapore Armed Forces.

Capt Azlan, who was promoted to Major, has about 2,000 flight hours under his belt.

Other than his first mission, he counts two experiences outside an aircraft as the most memorable of his career.

The first was in 2012, when he was the RSAF state colour ensign at the National Day Parade.

"The period was tiring for me as I was also trying to get my flying proficiency categorisation upgraded, so I needed to manage my time and energy between rehearsals and flights well," he said.

Three years later, in 2015, he was cited in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's National Day Rally Speech as an example of how the Malay community has made progress since independence.

Capt Muhammad Azlan with his wife and sons during a family day visit at Sembawang Air Base. PHOTO: MINDEF

"It was a proud moment for me, my family and wife were all very proud of me."

Having become a pilot instructor in 2018, the father of two sons, aged three and four, hopes to continue guiding junior pilots and trainees.

In fact, his two years as an instructor have already been impactful.

"When I was with the training squadron, one of the trainees was having trouble multi-tasking. I met him outside of work for coffee, to discuss what might be impeding his performance.

"He was experiencing some problems back home, but we encouraged him through that and he earned his wings.

"It gives you a sense of achievement and fulfilment to see someone grow, especially when you have put your heart into training them," he said.

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