Friends of flight MH370 captain reject argument he was involved in terror attempt

Friends of the missing flight MH370 pilot have said it was difficult for them to accept that he could have been involved in any terrorist attempt.

Peter Chong, a friend of Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah, the plane's lead pilot, said it was difficult for him to accept that Zaharie could have been involved in any terrorism attempt.

‘‘It’s very difficult for me to accept the line of thought that he was leaning towards terrorism.

‘‘Knowing him and knowing his character, I find it very difficult to accept," Chong said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald.

He went on to describe Zaharie in the report as very friendly and someone who did not get angry easily.

“He truly has a good heart,’’ wrote the author of a tribute page created in honour of Zaharie last week.

Chong said that Zaharie' passion for flying was the reason he built a flight simulator at home, the SMH said.

A Facebook page believed to have been Zaharie's showed photos of the simulator and of a small remote aircraft.

There were reportedly also pictures on the Facebook page showing Zaharie cooking.

He also curated a YouTube channel of video guides in which he demonstrated home maintenance tasks, including repairing the ice maker on a refrigerator and tuning air-conditioners to save money, SMH reported.

His former classmate Mohd Nasir Othman said Zaharie was a responsible and ethical man.

He described the 53-year-old pilot of the missing MH370 plane as a gentle grandfather who would “never compromise his passengers’ safety”.

“He would never do anything that would endanger people’s lives,” English-language daily the Star reported Nasir as saying.

“He set up a flight simulator in his house because he has always been a gadget geek ever since our school days,” he said in the report.

Ho Nean Chan dismissed the speculation centring on Zaharie’s flight simulator, the report said.

“Aviation is his hobby. Why can’t he have a simulator at home? Last I checked, those were games that can be bought anywhere,” Ho told the Star.

Schoolmate Dr Ghouse Mohd Noor said news implicating the pilots came as a shock to people who knew Zaharie well.

“I called people who know Zaharie well and they all agreed he would never compromise his passengers’ safety,” he said.

“He’s just not the type,” said Dr Ghouse.

Zaharie was born on July 31, 1961 and he went to Penang Free School in 1974.

He left in 1978 for continued his flight training after completing Form Five.

Malaysia Airlines is the first and only company Zaharie has worked for, joining it in 1981.

However, there is less information about co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid, who joined Malaysia Airlines in 2007.

He has come under scrutiny after it was revealed that he and a pilot invited two women to join them in the cockpit on a flight from Thailand to Malaysia in 2011, where he smoked and flirted with them.

However, in a tribute page set up for MH370, Fariq's grandmother was quoted as referring to him as a good son and a pious man.

Neighbours said that he liked to play futsal and that he was engaged to be married, SMH reported. – March 16, 2014.