Missing MH370: Tributes pour in for captain

KUALA LUMPUR - Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah is so passionate about flying that he gets into his self-made Boeing 777 simulator at home even after long-haul flights.

A fellow captain said the father of three was known as a "life-long learner", who always added materials to his literary collection, especially those on aviation.

"Zaharie has dedicated himself to the aviation industry and the airline. He's also a type-rated examiner, where he determines whether a pilot can fly a plane."

He said people should not question whether the two MH370 pilots had given their best in keeping the aircraft safe.

"Some people have cast aspersions over his role as captain of the flight, asking why he did not make the mayday distress call. It is easy to blame the pilot as he is not here to defend himself. Let us stop making assumptions and wait for the outcome of investigations."

Another colleague said Zaharie was known as a hands-on pilot when it came to mechanical machinery and he even blogged about it.

"He is also knowledgeable, always cheerful, hardworking and helpful."

Netizens shared what they knew about the captain. One described him as an avid remote-control aircraft enthusiast, while another revealed his culinary skills.

He said Zaharie could cook, especially good fried noodles, butter prawns, fish curry, a mushroom broccoli dish and sambal tofu.

His former classmates at the Old Frees Association Kuala Lumpur & Selangor released this statement: "While we eagerly wait for the news, let's not forget that the pilot of the ill-fated flight is an Old Free, Capt Zaharie Ahmad Shah, badge 1978. To those who know his family, please send our deepest condolences".

A tribute article titled "Tribute: Who exactly is Malaysia Airlines Captain Zaharie Shah of MH370?" had been widely shared across Twitter and Facebook.

The article was accompanied by pictures of the 53-year-old and the remote-controlled aircraft he had in his collection.

Pictures of a Bell 222 lightweight twin-engine helicopter, a Catalina PBY plane and a flight simulator set up at Zaharie's home were among those attached in the tribute.

Besides his love for aviation, Zaharie also uploaded five video guides on a YouTube channel named "Zaharie Shah".

Among them were tutorials on how to waterproof window panes, how to service an air-conditioning unit and repair an ice-maker.

Ahmad Idris, whom netizens believe is related to Zaharie, posted the following on the captain's Facebook page: "He is a father who cares, he is also the one who ensured we had proper religious education from young until we are adults... I know because I am his son."

Others took the opportunity to convey their sympathies to Ahmad Idris.

They included Siti Hajar, who said: "Hope Ahmad Idris and his family members as well as the families of the flight's crew and passengers are given the strength and patience.

"Ease the search for MH370 and save those who are on their flight and reunite them with their loved ones," she posted.