KUALA LUMPUR: The Cessna crash survivors may have broken their limbs but not their spirit to continue flying.
Co-pilot Syed Haidhar Syed Zulkiflee, 25, and fellow members of the Royal Selangor Flying Club, Saiful Farid Amri Amrizal, 21,
and Shaiful Zafeq Razali, 23, had reportedly lost contact with the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) control tower when they were flying over the Batu Caves area at around 5pm on Friday.
The radio contact was lost apparently due to the telephone battery going dead.
The plane nose dived into a bush of bamboos near the Batu Reservoir in Ulu Yam about 15 minutes later.
The three flying club members had taken off from the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang for a training flight at around 4.50pm on that day.
“We passed out from the crash but then gained consciousness at around 6.10pm,” said Syed Haidhar, explaining they had to force-land after their plane lost balance while trying to avoid an eagle in strong wind.
He said the three of them had to wait in the jungle for 10 hours before rescuers finally reached them.
A rescuer team found the survivors in a hilly area opposite the reservoir, which is about 100m from the crash site, at around 3.45am yesterday.
“It was either we landed on water or on dry ground.
“We chose dry ground,” Syed Haidhar told reporters at the Selayang Hospital, where the three young men had been admitted
following their rescue.
In spite of the injuries sustained on his face and legs, the budding pilot said that he still looked forward to obtaining his private pilot licence.
Hospital director Dr Siti Zaleha Mohd Salleh said Syed Haidhar and Saiful Farid were in semi-critical condition, while Shaiful Zafeq was in critical condition.
Syed Haidhar’s father Syed Zulkeflee Syed Masron, 50, said that his son was still determined to follow through with his training and that the accident had not dampened his spirit in any way.
“He only has 14 more hours of flying before he gets his private pilot licence, and he cannot wait to get back to it,” Syed Zulkeflee said, adding that the family was supportive of his son’s decision.
The young flyer’s mother, 46-year-old Sharifah Haitun Hanisah said she was informed by the club that her son had not returned from his flight at 8.30pm on Friday.
She was grateful that all three had returned safely,
“All of them are in good spirits, and they seem determined to return to flying once they are healthy,” she said, adding that she had talked to the survivors at the hospital.
Selangor Fire and Rescue department director Othman Abdullah said the rescue operation started at around 9pm on Friday when they were notified of the crash.
He said rescuers faced a tough time trying to locate the crash site until they received a report from a villager near the crash site who had heard an explosion.