Dedi Susanto, 33, is a pilot of the Indonesian Air Force. From Banyuwangi in East Java, he lives in Yogyakarta with his wife, Astrid Yunita, and their two children, Muhammad Raflie Nauval Madjid, 3, and Annisa Zahra Naura Madjid, 1. He shared his day with The Bali Times’ Arga Sagitarini I wake up at 4:30am, and go jogging before I go to the office. Sport is important to keep the stamina good; it helps me to be ready to fly. Normally, I go to the office early, at around 6:30am, for the daily weather briefings. There are also briefings about what the student pilots must learn. Besides flying, I also teach beginner students at the Air Force Academy.

Around 8am, I have breakfast in the office with the other pilots and the technicians. Pilots and technicians work closely together. Each is as important as the other: pilots are not more important than technicians; technicians are not more important than pilots. I don’t really care what we eat for breakfast. I like all kinds of food as long as it’s fresh and healthy.

I fly three sorties in a normal day. One sortie can take an hour and a half, so the total flying time will be around four and a half hours in a day. We get plenty of food here. When I land after the first sortie, I have a snack, and after the second sortie, I have lunch. When I’ve flown the third sortie, the last, at 3pm, I go home.

I love being a pilot. I can’t imagine my life without flying and I don’t have any plans yet for my future after I retire. I’ve known some pilots who lost their job because of health problems or age and they seem like people who have lost the most important thing in their life.

I am a bomber. I must practice different things during flying exercises. In aerobatics there are three basic movements: rolling, turning and looping. In instrument practice, the pilot uses only the instruments of the plane to fly, as if it was dark and cloudy, with only the instruments to show the way. As a bomber, I also use some imitation bombs during exercises. I was sent to Aceh and to East Timor during the troubles there, but fortunately I didn’t need to drop any bombs.

When I was a child, being a pilot was not my dream. But I joined the Air Force to get a free education, because my parents were government employees and they didn’t have enough money to pay for higher education. But when I graduated from my high school, I decided to try to continue my education in the Air Force. When I was accepted by the academy, I was surprised, and my dream of being a good pilot began. The more I learned about flying, the more I came to love it. The first time I flew was in 1996, when I was 23. I saw the world from the air, and I was amazed by it. I’m still stunned by the beauty of it now, stunned by the power of God, who created it. I feel so tiny and insignificant compared to it all.

It took four years to complete my training in Yogyakarta. When I finished my studies, I was chosen to be an instructor. I love being a teacher, too. I have to teach young future pilots and I am so happy when I see them succeed. I feel proud of them. The student pilots now have better facilities than when I was a trainee, but the government still doesn’t give enough focus to the Air Force. They should – the Air Force is an important part of our country’s defenses, as it is the sharpest way to reach the enemy.

There have been a lot of air accidents lately. I think the problem is in management. Flying is not just about the pilot, but also about the technicians, the maintenance and all the other people involved in the flight. All of the people must be able to manage themselves, and work together to make a safe flight.

I arrive home at 4pm and shower. Then I study Russian and English by reading books in those languages. English is important because it’s the international language, and as Indonesia will probably buy some Russian planes, it’s important to know that language, too.

I have dinner with the children and Astrid. She’s from Mataram in Lombok. Having dinner with them is important for me, because my wife is my greatest supporter. Though many air accidents happen these days, we don’t think too much about it. Life and death are God’s decisions and we have no control over that. But we look after ourselves, and I make sure I’m ready and strong enough to fly. One thing I always do is to get enough rest, and that’s why I always go to bed at 9 or 10pm.

Before I fly, I first ask myself: Am I able to do this? If the answer is yes, I will fly; if the answer is ever no, I won’t. But fortunately, the answer has always been yes.

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