Sajjad Gul, the pilot of the ill-fated Pakistan International Airlines(PIA)flight that crashed in Karachi on Friday, used to fly the Lahore-Dubai route regularly, according to his family friends. He was flying domestic flights only because international flights have been suspended, a family friend said.
"It was a harrowing and devastating news for his family and friends. I can't even find the rights words. Sajjad was a very close, old and dear family friend. He was the pride ... of his family. He was a very humble, quiet and composed person," Ayesha Imtiaz, a family friend of Sajjad Gul, told Khaleej Times over the phone from Islamabad."He was the son of my father's childhood friend, so we were pretty close to each other. We have known each other's families for more than 50 years. Gul's father is in a state of shock."
Gul, who was in his 50s and a resident of Lahore, died along with 97 other people onboard PIA flight PK-8303 which crashed just before landing at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport. Only two passengers survived the crash.
With a 24-year experience in the airline industry, Gul had flown over 17,000 hours, including 4,700 hours of Airbus A320. He is survived by his wife and four children.
Ayesha Imtiaz said Gul was calm and composed when he told air traffic controllers that the plane had lost an engine and declared 'Mayday'.
"Being a pilot, he was the pride of his family. My uncle used to mention his name with pride," she said, adding that he used to fly Lahore-Dubai flights regularly and some international flights to the UK as well.
"My family wanted to go and console Gul's family but it is not possible due to Covid-19 restrictions. But we spoke to his father, family and sisters, who are devastated. It is not just the trauma of losing a family member but also the trauma of not being there with them. They are in so much pain and trauma," she said.