KUALA BETIS: Until a month ago, the emergency work performed by commercial helicopter pilot Capt Bagawan Singh (pic) entailed flying critically wounded patients to hospitals.
But when huge floods hit east coast states last month, Bagawan found himself flying nearly every day, delivering supplies to stranded folk.
At one point, he even volunteered, alongside several other people to fly to Kuala Krai to retrieve a local gurdwara’s scriptures – the Sri Guru Granth Sahib – and bring it back for “cremation” as it was damaged by the floods.
(The Sikhs regard the Sri Guru Granth Sahib as a living guru, and that the scriptures, when damaged, should not be left in disrepair.)
Bagawan, who is a co-owner of Helistar Resources, said his rescue work for flood victims began when he got a call from the authorities on Dec 24 to fly supplies to Jerantut.
Taking off from Subang airport that day, he flew over the Titiwangsa range in spite of the rain, landing in Jerantut and delivering supplies to two villages, he said in an interview.
With roads inundated and police unable to reach towns, authorities had a second request for him to scout the countryside.
So, Bagawan, 57, took to the skies again, following river paths to towns submerged under water, recording information that he would later hand over to police.
Upon returning to Subang later that day, he found that the telephones in his office were jammed with calls.
They had heard of his work, and wanted to hire him for emergency flood relief.
Before long Helistar’s choppers were flying off on missions, aiding the police and other organisations.
Some of these jobs included delivery of goods to 19 orang asli villages in Kelantan, which had not seen aid for two weeks.
Flying through bad weather, he said, was also common during this time.He added that the heavy rain and cloud cover made him land at one point in a town field, and in another a hilly jungle clearing.