SEPANG: The flight crew who transported nine Malaysians stranded in North Korea back home today were military personnel pretending to be commercial aircraft pilots in order to ensure their safety.
Lieutenant-colonel Hasrizan Kamis, who was among the team involved in the rescue mission on Thursday, said that the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) crew, which consisted of two pilots, two co-pilots and two quartermasters, were all clad in casual attire instead of their uniforms.
"We received the order (for the rescue mission) on Monday. However, we were only able to take off from the Subang air base, en route to Pyongyang, on a Bombardier Global Express business jet at around 10.30am on Thursday.
"It was a mixed feeling, as we did not know what to expect when we reached North Korea.
"However, everything was normal when we arrived there," Hasrizan said when met at the Bunga Raya Complex of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) today.
He said that they landed in Pyongyang at 4.30pm on the same day, but were only allowed to take off at around 7.45pm.
Hasrizan added that they had to stop at the Fuzhou Changle International Airport in China to refuel, before heading to KLIA.
Reporting by ZAFIRA ANWAR, MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING and FERNANDO FONG