BUTTERWORTH: The air force pilot killed in a crash at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Teluk Air Tawar here this evening was celebrating his 45th birthday today.
His uncle, A Bijeikumaran, 58, told reporters outside the Seberang Jaya Hospital mortuary that Major C Kayamboo was born on Dec 21.
Bijeikumaran said he could not remember exactly how long Kayamboo had served in the air force.
“He flew for the air force for 15 years, I think.
“He went for overseas missions. He was based in Alor Star.
“But he is actually a Penang island boy. He was a nice chap. Friendly guy.”
Bijeikumaran added that Kayamboo is survived by his parents, his wife, who works as a government clinic nurse in Penang, and four young children, two boys and two girls.
The Beechcraft B200T, carrying four air force personnel, including Kayamboo, crashed near the Terminal Peluru of the base at 5.18pm.
The other three personnel on board, who were injured, were sent to the Seberang Jaya Hospital for treatment. The extent of their injuries is not known yet.
The air force has set up a special team to investigate the crash.
Meanwhile, Bernama reports that Prime Minister Najib Razak has expressed his condolences to the family of the pilot killed in the RMAF aircraft crash.
In his latest Twitter posting, Najib said a comprehensive investigation would be conducted on the incident.
“Received report on the tragedy of aircraft crash @airforcenextgen RMAF official Twitter, sad to know there is a life lost. Condolence to the family, comprehensive investigation will be conducted,” he said.
Air Force chief Lieutenant-General Affendi Buang said the board of inquiry set up will find out at the soonest what caused the plane to crash.
“The plane had been in service for over 20 years and had a good maintenance record.
“At the time of the crash, the weather was fine and could not have caused the crash.
“But everything that could have caused the crash will be looked into carefully. We will not make assumptions,” he told reporters outside the Seberang Jaya Hospital mortuary.
Deputy defence minister Johari Baharum said Kayamboo had a good service record.
He said Kayamboo’s family would receive aid, with his children getting aid until a certain stage so they could further their studies.
He also said the three wounded — two at the Seberang Jaya Hospital and one at the Penang Hospital — were in stable condition.
“We are very saddened by what happened. Our men did well by acting fast to rescue the victims and sending them to hospital.”
Former Air Force pilot Major Zaidi Ahmad remembers Kayamboo as a easy going man with a good sense of humour.
Zaidi said he was in the same cohort with Kayamboo during a pilot training course in Alor Star, Kedah, in 2010.
“He was a very cheerful guy, always smiling, making jokes, very cheerful. I am going to miss him a lot.
“My deepest condolences to the family.”
Zaidi now works for the Penang Chief Minister’s Office.
On a different note, Zaidi called on the defence ministry to investigate the crash thoroughly, as there had been many incidents involving air force planes of late.
Residents staying nearby told Bernama that the loud explosion startled them.
“It sounded like a bomb explosion,” said 14-year-old G Sharvinther, who was at the Sri Muneeswaraswami Devasthanam Temple, when the aircraft crashed 100 metres away.
“I ran out of the temple to see what happened and saw smoke coming out from the airbase. A few minutes later there was the sound of ambulance sirens.”
A resident of Kampung Pekan Darat, Mohd Fazil Awang, 53, said he was riding his motorcycle and on his way back from the mosque when he heard a loud noise and saw smoke coming from the airbase.
Before the explosion, Fazil said he had seen a light aircraft which had flown very low and thought it was about to land on the runway.
“I had seen two aircraft in training exercises since morning.”
He said he and a few other people tried to get closer to the area, but were restrained by RMAF personnel.
“We were told that a plane had crashed and ordered to leave the area.”