SUBANG, April 30 – The daily, 10-hour duration set for the operation to locate the vanished Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 aircraft was an arduous task for the crew of the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) C-130 Hercules aircraft. However, the crew of the aircraft which departed for the Pearce Royal Australian Air Force Base (RAAF) on March 28, faced the long periods stoically. A pilot of the aircraft, Major Azman Amat, 44, said the aircraft crew went through many experiences and challenges, among which were foul and uncertain weather in the waters of the Indian Ocean, which at times forced them to turn back. “Our mission was quite challenging, followed by the lengthy period of at least 10 hours of search a day, going and coming back.
“Definitely dangerous, but it was a task given to us. I also informed my wife regarding whatever condition I faced, whether the weather was good or bad,” he told reporters upon his arrival at the Subang Air Force Base with 53 other personnel and officers taking part in the mission since March 29. He said the crew also hoped to find something positive in the search, but when informed the debris found in the operation turned up negative, they would feel disappointed and sad. “I always strove hard in the searches in the hope of finding something. But, when I found something and was told it was not debris (from the aircraft), I feel sad because I fervently want to find something, even if only a small piece of debris,” added Azman who is from Salak Tinggi, Sepang, Selangor. He said ‘Ops Pyramid’, in which he was involved to fly out Malaysian students, following the political turbulence in Egypt was different from the current mission, as it only entailed going there to fly out the students.
“This is more dangerous and challenging. It is the most challenging and most time-consuming in the 24 years I have been working with RMAF,” he said. Flight MH370, with 227 passengers and 12 crew departed from the KL International Airport at 12.41am on March 8 before disappearing from the radar, an hour later over the South China Sea. On March 24 – 17 days after the Boeing 777-200ER went missing, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, Azman’s wife, Zamzurina Zakaria, 43, said her husband’s absence due to his participation in the operation brought out numerous emotions within her. “I felt choked, afraid and a myriad of things played out in my mind when my husband was assigned for the mission…but as the wife of a military personnel, I am forced to accept and be prepared mentally and physically. “Our three children and I always missed him but we could communicate with him daily, whether via telephone or short messaging service,” said Zamzurina, who manages her own business.
She said among the most worrying was when her husband informed her that the aircraft he piloted flew low, and once, a storm forced them to stop the search for a while. “Normally, my husband would tell me about such matters after the operation but they would still cause worry and fear. I prayed a lot so that everything went well and safely,” she said. For Siti Zanirah Ab Aziz, 34, pacifying the emotions of her children who were still small was her biggest challenge when her husband, Sergeant Mohd Nazri Mohamad, 34, was in Perth on the same mission. “Initially, my husband was expected to be there for only two weeks, so when he did not return at the end of the period, which was extended, my children started enquiring as to when he would return. “As a mother, I feel anguished when my son said if he was able to, he wanted to go to Australia to find his father,” said Siti Zanirah, who is pregnant with their third child. Two RMAF C-130 Hercules aircraft which took part in the search for the MH370 aircraft arrived safely home this morning after leaving the Pearce RAAF base late last night. A total of 19 officers and 35 personnel arrived in the aircraft, following announcement on the suspension of the air search to give focus to the intensive search on the sea bed.