Son of QZ8501 pilot doesn't know dad is gone

Son of QZ8501 pilot doesn't know dad is gone
Galih, the 10-year-old son of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilot Capt Iriyanto, is still unaware of what has happened to his father.

SURABAYA - It seemed like any other Saturday morning at the home of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilot Capt Iriyanto, with the television on and birds chirping outside in Jalan Pondok Jati in an upscale neighbourhood of Siduarjo, East Java.

So much so, a stranger wouldn't have guessed that the owner of the two-storey bungalow was involved in the air crash last Sunday and remains missing. And this impression was intentional - put on for the benefit of the experienced pilot's 10-year-old son, Galih.

"Until today, he doe not know what has happened to his father. We are not planning to tell him until the remains of his father are found," said Capt Iriyanto's brother-in-law Wahyu Budi Bornomo.

Wahyu, 53, said Galih would usually ask about his father if he did not see him around.

"He would ask if 'papa' was home. If he did not see him, he would assume that his father was out somewhere flying - Galih is used to not seeing Capt Iriyanto most of the time."

He said the schoolgoer's obsession with video games would keep him preoccupied at home, when asked if he noticed the unusual crowd that had been coming to their residence every night for prayers since the plane went missing.

"He is an avid video gamer and spends most of his time upstairs.

"He would wonder about the crowd (that were coming to the house because of the tragedy), but was never curious," said Wahyu.

When The Star visited the house at 8am local time, his wife, Ida, was talking to her sisters at the porch, politely declining to be interviewed.

"Maaf ya, nanti aja. Saya ngak mau cakap. (I am sorry, just wait. I do not want to talk)," she said, before walking back into the house.

Clad in a T-shirt and shorts, Capt Iriyanto's daughter, Ninis, 25, was seen going in and out of the house to run errands.

Wahyu said Capt Iriyanto was "a loving husband and father", and a caring man who helped his neighbours.

"He will be missed dearly by everyone."

Not too long after that, Galih, who was still in his Mickey Mouse pyjamas, came down from his room, looking for his sister.

"Smile for the camera!" Ninis told Galih as The Star's photographer points her camera towards him.

Asked if Capt Iriyanto's family had been this calm since the news of the tragedy hit them, Wahyu said: "At first, of course, we were all shocked. Ida refused to talk to anyone, but as days passed by, she became okay."

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