Captain Sheikh-speare

26 September 2016

The next time you’re on an AirAsia flight, be sure to check if your pilot is the famous Captain Shaha, the poet pilot of the skies.

Taking a flight is not always the most pleasant thing for many people. You have to arrive at the airport a few hours earlier in order to be able to catch your flight. You queue to drop your luggage. Then you endure the dreaded security line and, don’t forget, immigration.

You can almost be certain of being in a grumpy mood once you board the aircraft. The thought of being cooped up in a small space for several hours can only further sour your disposition. But then you hear a soothing voice over the aircraft’s PA system.

Assalamualaikum and a very good evening to everyone. My name is Captain Shaha and I will be flying your aircraft today along with the First Officer and the rest of the flight crew.”

Captain Shahirul Alim Aminudin, or Captain Shaha as he is affectionately known, then recites poetry and jokes. His voice is comforting, jovial and friendly. It definitely beats the stereotypical pilot droning that nobody understands, informing the passengers of who-knows-what.

You slowly feel relaxed and your shoulders loosen up. You start listening to the Captain’s voice and maybe let out a little giggle every now and then. You kick back and the next thing you know, the plane is in the air and you’re enjoying the inflight meal with a smile on your face.

“It really isn’t a part of my job. But the way I see it, if I can just give a little bit more into my professional job, then why not. The passengers are happy and all is good,” he smiles.

Captain Shaha has been a pilot for 16 years, and flying for AirAsia for the past three. Over the years, he has a built a collection of notes, comments and nice words that passengers have given him after being enthralled and regaled by his voice.

The one comment that he can can never forget was when a passenger who was utterly entertained and dazzled by his remarks over the PA system insisted on meeting him after a flight.

“She was shocked to see me. She couldn’t believe that the voice she heard belonged to me because I have a long beard and looked, well, a little religious,” laughs Captain Shaha.

The passenger, who was more pleasantly surprised than rudely shocked, laughed and preceded to bestow upon him a nickname that he just finds very amusing.

“She said, ‘You look more like a sheikh. I think I shall call you Sheik-speare!’” he says, smiling at the memory.

Captain Shaha has actually become quite the superstar on social media thanks to the dozens of videos AirAsia passengers have uploaded and shared on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

And he is also fast becoming a popular figure in traditional media. He has appeared on television, been on radio and interviewed by many publications. Even his colleagues who fly with him can’t resist taking selfies with him.

So is he enjoying the limelight?

“I definitely don’t do it for the fame, and it’s really not because of self-satisfaction either. It’s just something nice that I think the passengers and crew will enjoy. It’s just about giving something a little extra that no one expects,” he says as a matter-of-fact.

And it is obvious that the little extra that Captain Sheikh-speare has contributed has captured the hearts of all those who have flown with him.


By Zan Azlee

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