Pilots, flight school studes mourn for BahintingBy Cris Evert Lato
CEBU CITY—The room was filled with pilots and flight school students garbed in white polo and black slacks.
They were not attending a graduation ceremony for the Aviatour flight school, but were bidding goodbye to their mentor, Capt. Jessup Bahinting, who, several days ago, left on a flight that turned out to be his last.
Bahinting, copilot Kshitiz Chand and Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo were killed when the Piper Seneca plane bound for Naga City, Camarines Sur, crashed into the sea off Masbate on Aug. 18.
Robredo’s body was recovered on Tuesday, 800 meters from the shoreline and 189 feet below the surface from the plane’s fuselage. The bodies of Bahinting and Chand were recovered on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Inside St. Peter Memorial Chapel in Cebu City, stories about how Bahinting, Aviatour’s chair and chief executive officer, selflessly shared his time and resources to budding pilots were exchanged.
“He was more like a father figure to me than a mentor. I could come to him whenever I need someone to talk to and pretty much talk with him the way I would talk to my father,” said David Yakubu, a Nigerian flight instructor for five years.
Yakubu said he first became a student of Bahinting in 2007. “I was his firstforeign student and he welcomed me with open arms,” said Yakubu, who learned about Aviatour from his brother, a friend of one of the company’s officials.
Yakubu said Bahinting was a big loss and surviving the next months following his death would be like “a dog limping on one leg.”
“Definitely, it will be hard for us. There is no replacement for the post he left because nobody came close to the leadership he showed us. I don’t see anybody saying it will be easy but we will survive this and will come out stronger,” he said.
Sarah Bahinting, the captain’s youngest daughter, said she accepted what happened to her father.
“It was already in the back of our minds that something like this will happen because of the risky nature of his profession. Dad is resting now. That comforts me,” she said.
Sarah said they would hold the wake in St. Peter Memorial Chapel until Saturday. On Sunday, Bahinting’s remains will be brought to Ginatilan town, the hometown of his wife, Margie, located about 135 km southwest of Cebu City.
Sarah said Bahinting would be buried on Monday.