By: Florence F. Hibionada
A NATIONWIDE call for prayer vigil was made in the light of Saturday’s crash of the Piper Seneca plane carrying Interior and Local Government Secretary Jessie Robredo. This, as the Philippine government leads what now stands as the biggest and most extensive search and rescue operations off Masbate waters.
Here’s a look into the two pilots, one a veteran and highly-respected in the industry, the other a promising graduate of the country’s leading flying school. Both remain missing along with Secretary Robredo. A fourth passenger, Senior Inspector Jun Abrasado, has survived the crash.
Captain Jessup M. Bahinting
“Jess” to many, Captain Bahinting is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Aviatour Air which offers professional pilot training, charter flights, aircraft sales and maintenance services.
With main office in Cebu, Aviatour Air also holds office in Texas, USA with about 70 employees here and an aircraft fleet of at least 35.
Official information provided by the company website identifies Captain Bahinting as the one responsible for providing “overall leadership to the company.”
“Since its inception, he has successfully increased the company’s client base, which includes: local commercial business, banks, key government officials, sky jumping aficionados and tourists. He also expanded the reach of the company’s flight training operations, which now includes students from more than 20 countries,” the company said.
Captain Bahinting also holds a commercial pilot’s licence and is a certified flight instructor with more than 6,000 flight hours.
Aviatour Air’s company mission is to become a world-class general aviation service provider with offer for best-in-class pilot training to international students.
Transportation Secretary Mar Roxas through social networking site Twitter tagged Bahinting a “local hero in Cebu – flew in during stormy weather, cobra antivenom meds to save a snake bitten child.”
His brother Orson operates a flying school in Iloilo.
Kshitiz Chand is among the graduates of Class of 2011 of the Aviatour Flying School based in Cebu City, his current home as well. Aviatour Flying School is also owned and run by the Bahinting family with said school bearing strong credentials and highly-renowned in the industry.
Aviatour Flying School is duly authorized by the Philippine Civil Aviation Authority and accredited by the Bureau of Immigration to accept foreign students like Chand.
In a Facebook account, Chand posts as profile picture a shot of himself in pilot’s uniform with fellow flying school friends.
Other than flying, his interests include photography and an apparent love of Cebu.
In 2009, he made a public post of the quote, “Love can sometimes be magic. But magic is sometimes…just an illusion.” That post generated numerous comments from friends, with Chand replying “unhappy…unhappy...unhappy.”