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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Beloved Phuket

Dead pilot "loved Phuket view from above"

Captain Arif Mulyadi once told his son that of all the places he had flown, Phuket had the worst weather. But it also had the most beautiful scenery from above.

The retired lieutenant colonel was among the 88 people who died on Sunday in a plane crash on the Thai resort island of Phuket.

"Father promised to come home to see his grandsons on Sept 28," Arif's oldest son, Agung, told news portal on Monday.

He is returning home 10 days early, but not for the joyous family reunion that had been anticipated.

Arif's body arrived from Thailand yesterday morning (TUES) at SoekarnoHatta International Airport. He was buried at Pondok Ranggon public cemetery, southeast of Jakarta, yesterday.

He is survived by wife Lief Farikha; three children, Agung Bayu Hanggono, 29, Windi Hapsari Catu Pratiwi, 27, and Dimas Bayu Prakoso, 25; and two grandsons.

Arif was piloting the McDonell Douglas MD82 that crashed Sunday. The plane, operated by Thai budget airline OneTwoGo, broke into two and burst into flames on landing, killing 88 people and injuring 42 others.

Chairman of OneTwoGo, Udom Tantiprasongchai, told reporters in Bangkok that the pilot was "an experienced foreigner".

Arif, who graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1974, retired from the Air Force two years ago after serving for more than 30 years.

He piloted jet fighters for several years before flying transportation planes, according to soninlaw Lt Col (ret) Munir Umar. He finished his service as an instructor at the Air Force Academy.

"He started his pilot career outside the Air Force long before he retired. To my knowledge, he once worked for Star Air and Sempati, among others," Umar told reporters at Arif's home at the Halim Perdana Kusumah Air Force housing complex in East Jakarta.

Arif's wife was in Thailand on Monday to identify her husband's remains and accompany the body back to Indonesia.

Arif worked for OneTwoGo for several years. His wife joined him in Thailand, where the couple lived, while their children remained in Jakarta.

"Ibu (Arief's wife) just returned home two weeks ago. It was a routine visit, visiting her children and grandsons," Umar said. "Now she is returning here for a different reason."

The Nation by the Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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