Missing Jet's Pilot Felt 'Lucky,' Friend Tells Newspaper

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The captain of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was “very aware of the great responsibility a pilot bears towards his passengers and crew,” a friend told a newspaper on Monday.

Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, took his job very seriously, Peter Chong told The Star.

Zaharie Ahmad Shah, 53, the pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, had more than 18,000 flight hours and had worked for the airline since 1981.NBC News

"Zaharie is someone who is very passionate about flying," Chong added. "He is a management pilot, which means he doesn't just fly but is involved in training and examining other pilots.

Chong said Zaharie "wanted to make a difference to the community" and was "humble despite his senior position."

"We used to joke that he is one of the lucky people who has made his job his hobby," Chong added.

Malaysia's government said police on Saturday searched the homes of both the pilot and the co-pilot of the missing Malaysia Airlines jet. It said police were examining an elaborate flight simulator taken from Zaharie's home.

Zaharie, who has three grown children and one grandchild, had previously posted photos online of the simulator, which was made with three large computer monitors and other accessories.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

- Henry Austin