Kugan Tangiisuran was an 8-year-old boy when he went to the airport with his family to send off his father abroad. The Penang native, from the town of Perai, had made up his mind that day to be a pilot, after a close encounter with an airplane. While he left the airport without his father, he brought home something significant—a dream.
Years later, wanting to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot, he hit his first setback when his family was unable to afford the extravagant fees required for the flight school’s pilot training course.
So instead, upon completion of his SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) examination required for college admission, he went on to pursue a Diploma in Hotel Management in his hometown, Penang. Thereafter, he found employment within the local hospitality industry upon graduation.
A friend, aware of his dreams, referred him to an opening in airliner AirAsia, with hope that it will open opportunities within the company. Alas he was offered a position as a courier dispatch, an office boy. Despite that, with zero hesitation, he accepted. It was May 2006 then.
In that very year, Kugan passed an exam to become a cadet pilot. However, haunted by company policies, he was unable to proceed with the cadet program. He needed to serve at least two years within his current department before being allowed an internal transfer.
He diligently continued working as a dispatch and persevered for the next seven years. Taking the exams again and again, until he finally passed. He attended the Asia Pacific Flight Training (APFT) programme in July 2013, for 15 months in Kota Bharu. After which, he went through a 6-month stint at the AirAsia Academy.
He attributed his success down to the support that he received from his family, as well as the AirAsia boss himself, Mr Tony Fernandes, who got wind of his endeavors, helped by personally motivating him. What better confidence booster is there then to have the boss rooting for you.
In June 2015, he finally graduated the entire course, and during the graduation ceremony, his inspirational story was shared by Tony Fernandes on stage. So much so that the boss was deeply moved, almost to tears, when sharing Kugan’s journey.
He has since become a First Officer (Co-Pilot), and until this day, continues to fly the skies in AirAsia planes.
“If you want to achieve something, you just have to work hard. And if you want that, just keep on trying. If you failed once, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get it. If you just keep on trying, sure one day you will get it.”
– Kugan Tangiisuran, April 2016