Captain Afwan Zamzami, 54, left home quickly on the day of the doomed flight complaining that “his shirt hadn’t been ironed, when usually he is really neat”.
Captain Afwan started his flying career in the air force before becoming a commercial pilot in 1987.
His family and colleagues say he was devoted Muslim, eager to help people in his neighbourhood in the West Java town of Bogor, and at work.
His profile picture on social media is a cartoon of Superman praying, with the words “it doesn’t matter how high you fly, you will never reach heaven if you don’t pray”.
“We’re in grief, still praying for the best,” said Ferza Mahardhika, whose uncle was the pilot of the Sriwijaya SJ182 flight, BBC reported.
“He was a very good man. He often gave advice, wise advice. He was a prominent figure in his neighbourhood and was well-known for his kindness,” said Ferza Mahardhika.
“I’m devastated and can’t believe that this is happening. Please pray for uncle and our family,” he added.
Before going to work on that fateful day the captain apologised to his wife and three children for having to leave them again.
“He usually does this ordinary greeting but he apologized to his wife and children.”
Indonesia’s tribunnews reported that his family did not understand Afwan’s intentions.