Missing MH370: Friends of pilot band together to pay tribute on Facebook

Missing MH370: Friends of pilot band together to pay tribute on Facebook

PETALING JAYA: Even as Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah was being described as a political activist and investigated by police, his friends have created a dedicated Facebook page in support of the missing MH370 pilot.

The page attracted more than 800 "likes" within hours of its creation yesterday.

One of the messages on the page stated that one "should not be judged in his absence" following police investigations into a flight simulator in the pilot's house.

Zaharie's junior schoolmate Dr Ghouse Mohd Noor, who created the page, expressed sadness over media reports implicating the pilot, who is said to be a PKR member.

"We want more people to know what Zaharie is really like.

"Zaharie is a dedicated pilot who would put his passengers' safety first," he said.

It is learnt that police are checking the flight paths recorded in the simulator.

"The media should refrain from using words that could be misleading.

"For example, the police sought the family's permission before taking the flight simulator and other materials to facilitate their investigations.

"But the media report said the items were 'confiscated'," he said, adding that Zaharie's family had given their full cooperation to the police.

Zaharie joined Malaysian Airlines in 1981 and has 18,365 hours of flying experience.

He maintained a YouTube channel, where he uploaded his home repair experiments such as tuning air conditioners and repairing the broken icemaker in his refrigerator.

Zaharie was also so passionate about flying that he would pick up the controls of his home-built Boeing 777 flight simulator at his Shah Alam home or the remote controls of his model aircraft.

According to family and friends, he was not a "political fanatic" as reported by British paper The Mail, but a good-hearted family man who enjoyed cooking when not flying, with blog posts surfacing of dishes that he had cooked for his family.

Aside from aviation and cooking, Zaharie, who is said to be a devout Muslim, was also said to have a great sense of humour.

He has subscribed to Yemeni-born British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard's site and liked the YouTube videos uploaded by a Russian practical joker, who showed how to play party tricks.

Blog posts in defence of Zaharie have emerged, saying that he "truly has a good heart" and that he was an "avid chef who shared different dishes for those around him like a true Malaysian and Penangite".

Meanwhile, Zaharie's 27-year-old daughter Aishah has flown back to Malaysia from Australia where she has lived since 2010.

Aishah returned to be with her family, Britain's Daily Mirror quoted an Australian news website as saying.

She has told a friend that speculation surrounding her father was "killing the family".

The website's source said: "What the international media wrote about Captain Zaharie is not true (and) ridiculous. He's a nice man and loving father to his children."

Zaharie was in jovial mood, says friend.

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