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Interview with Ani
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ImageWhen school is done and career path established, what do the Old Boys and Girls do in their spare time? Perhaps golfing, window shopping, F-1 racing, deep-sea fishing, reading, surfing the net or just working on their garden patch at home? In the first of the series, we have Tan Sri Dato' Dr. Ani Arope (78) telling us that his hobby is flying planes.

“Flying sharpens my mental faculties” he says.

I have been asked many times why I took up flying at this stage of my life. Wasn’t there a more sedate way to spend one’s retirement than to go in for something that demanded one’s full attention to master a potentially lethal set of circumstances? Well meaning friends point out that if I were adrift in the ocean, the chances of being picked up was a real possibility. Or if I were to go off on a jungle track and got lost a search and rescue team could still go searching for me.

ImageBut if something untoward happened in the cockpit whilst I was up in the air no rescue party could drop in to give me a hand. I don’t know about being cast adrift in the ocean or getting lost in the jungle. I have had my share of excitement up in the clouds and always there was a reassuring voice coming from the tower or another flyer who happened to be within radio range to give me help. I tell my well wishing friends that the most dangerous part of flying, and this is being corroborated by statistical figures, is the drive from the house to the airfield!

Flying is a great sport especially for those who want a release from their high pressure jobs. The total immersion it demands helps soak off the cares of the day. From start-up to shut-down, the time is spent on aviating, navigating and communicating. At the end of the flight, there is this sense of personal satisfaction, a useful work well accomplished and time well spent.

Those who fly enjoy the thrill of meeting up with the challenges of managing risks and equipment involved to bring themselves and their craft back to terra firma. More mid-level and top executives in the private and public sectors should consider giving it a go. If dummies like me could take to the skies at this late stage in life, there is no reason why others can’t.

For the youngsters, it is good discipline. It trains leadership and responsibility. When one of my children (a hyperactive kid) was at college, how was I to guide her 8000 miles away? I encouraged her to take up flying as one of her electives, though she was majoring in Microbiology. Flying was done on Saturdays at eight in the mornings. When students turned up blurry eyed and looking under the weather, they were sent back to their dorms. So in wanting to fly there couldn’t be late Friday nights or attending boisterous student parties.

And what was more the students that took flying were the more responsible types and were a lot different from the ultra ‘holier than thou’ groups of all denominations that were rampant on the campuses then. In short if you have an ultra super active child, one way to hive off that extra energy is to channel him/her to take up flying. Under their instructor they develop discipline, leadership and responsibility. They get to meet up with flyers of different age groups and professional interests. This is good for them in their formative stage of their development. (Contd...)

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