My father, Martin Michael, who has died aged 80, was an airline pilot who always had flying in his blood.

He was born and brought up in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the son of Michael Sami, a manager at Standard Chartered bank, and his wife, Agnes (nee Rajaratnam). As a child, Martin would make model planes and use a torch to read aviation books at night when he was in bed.

After attending school at St John’s institution, Kuala Lumpur, he was able to train as a pilot in the UK – at Elstree aerodrome, Hertfordshire – thanks to a loan secured from the bank by his father.

In 1966 he joined Malaysia Singapore Airlines as a commercial pilot. He started flying DC-3s and after a few years as a first officer he got his command as captain in 1971, on the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. He was always a respected and well-liked pilot.

When the airline split into two companies along national lines, in 1977, he opted to stay in Malaysia to be with his family.

In 1989 he was selected to ferry Malaysia Airlines’ first B747-400 from Seattle, in the US, back to his home city. It was an exciting upgrade to the fleet and he felt honoured to be chosen.

At the time of his retirement in 1999 he had clocked up 18,523 hours and was featured in the local newspapers as well as the Malaysia Book of Records as the nation’s longest-serving commercial pilot, with 36 years’ service.

In retirement in Sydney, Australia, he enjoyed gardening, PC games and keeping up with aviation news and current affairs.

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He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Gloria (nee Lobo), their three sons, Nikhil, Rakesh and me, and by seven grandchildren.



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