Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Five-a-side football and DIY videos reveal ordinary lives of flight crew Zaharie Shah and Fariq Hamid


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The Independent Online

The family life and psychological state of Captain Zaharie Ahmed Shah and co-pilot Fariq Abdul Hamid have become part of the investigation into flight MH370.

Mr Shah, 53, is a veteran pilot and family man who likes comedians such as Eddie Izzard and Sarah Silverman, cooking, and making do-it-yourself video guides.

The elaborate three-screen 777 flight simulator that Mr Shah built in his home is now subject of investigation, but he was open about his extra-curricular interest and joined a public online forum about the activity.

Mr Hamid, 27, regularly played five-a-side football with local youths, paying for their football shirts.

It has emerged that in 2011 he invited two female passengers into the cockpit of flight from Thailand to Kuala Lumpur. One of the women, South African Jonti Roos, said she was initially thrilled by the experience but later described it as “possibly a little bit sleazy”.


Mr Shah’s home can be seen on YouTube where he posted videos demonstrating how to fix an ice-maker and tune an air-conditioner so it runs efficiently.

The YouTube channels that he followed give an insight into his character, ranging from the academic and tech-orientated TED talks and Richard Dawkins’ Foundation for Reason and Science to comedians, how to make balloon animals and one about cycling. Since the disappearance one of his followers wrote: “Captain pls come back, we are waiting you for more videos…” Another said: “I’d say we lost a gem of a man … a great mind and a kind heart.”

Ritzeraynn Rashid, who flew with Mr Shah in the 1980s and 1990s, told the New Straits Times that he was “always smiling and very cheerful. We shared a lot of good memories. We were like brothers.”

There were claims at the weekend that Mr Shah was a supporter of the controversial opposition leader Anwar Imbrahim. Mr Ibrahim was given a five-year sentence for sodomy one day before flight MH370 vanished. Human rights campaigners have said Mr Anwar had for years been targeted by political opponents. Asked if Mr Zaharie’s background as an opposition supporter was being examined, one senior police officer said: “We need to cover all our bases.”

Fariq Hamid had just graduated to the cockpit of the Boeing 777, a sophisticated aircraft, after amassing 2,763 flight hours.

A neighbour, Ayop Jantan, told Associated Press that he had heard Mr Hamid was engaged and had been planning his wedding. Mr Jantan said Mr Hamid’s accomplishments were a source of pride to his father, a high-ranking civil servant in Selangor state.

His grandmother, Halimah Abdul Rahman, described him as “a good son, obedient … and a pious man”.

His brother, Afiq, told the New Straits Times: “This is just heartbreaking. I do not know what to tell you. I am not doing okay. Sorry, I cannot really think right now. My parents are very sad right now.”

Ahmad Sarafi Ali Asrah, the head of a community mosque in the middle-class suburb where Mr Hamid lived, said the pilot was a “good boy, a good Muslim, humble and quiet”.

He said Mr Hamid’s father “still cries when he talks about Fariq. His mother too”.