Among the fighter pilots who took to the sky on 21 August during our belated National Day Parade was MAJ Muhammad Iskandar.
A Fighter Pilot in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Maj Iskandar is entrusted to plan, lead and execute various complex multinational operations and exercises in the SAF. Since joining the RSAF in 2008, Maj Iskandar has excelled, earning multiple local and international accolades.
He was the Top Graduate of his cohort in the Officer Cadet School (OCS), in his Basic Wings Course (BWC) in Australia, and at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Flying Center in Canada (NFTC).
In 2012, RSAF Fighter Group presented him the 144 Squadron’s Best Fighter Pilot Award.
He was a recipient of the SAF Academic Scholarship and pursued a B.A. (Honours) in Political Science with International Relations at the University of British Columbia, Canada. As one of the top graduates in his university cohort, he was awarded two of the university’s most prestigious scholarships – the UBC Premier Undergraduate (John H. Mitchell Memorial) Scholarship & the Wesbrook Scholarship, making him the first student from an ASEAN member state to receive those awards.
In 2018, he was awarded the SAF Overseas Masters Sponsorship and the University of Oxford Scholarship to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Oxford.
Maj Iskandar’s flying days began at the Singapore Youth Flying Club in 2005 when he joined the 138th Basic Flying Course (BFC). There, he learnt how to fly the PA-28 Piper Warrior and the theory behind flying operations.
“I remember the first 10 sorties being really stressful and challenging, but I was fortunate to have completed the BFC and selected to undergo the PPL phase,” Maj Iskandar said in SYFC publication in 2018. “It was in the PPL phase that I felt really comfortable in the cockpit. I knew then that flying was my passion and my calling. I graduated with my PPL Wings in 2006.”
Of his journey at SYFC, he said, “My journey in SYFC played a fundamental role in shaping me into who I am today. I learnt how to effectively manage stress in SYFC. I clearly remember the words of my Primary Instructor (PI) Captain Simon Sim CK, ‘I am not here to teach you only how to fly this Piper Warrior, I am here to teach you how to have the killer instinct and the survival instinct to become a fighter pilot one day’. Therefore, in every flight I was subjected to different forms of verbal and cognitive stress by the instructors as I attempted to fly while maintaining situational awareness. Looking back, I know that the consistent element of stress I experienced in SYFC, shaped my ability to remain calm under pressure today, a vital skill for any fighter pilot.”
A lesson he learned from SYFC is that flying is not a solo achievement. It requires the collective effort of a team.
“There is no point being the best, when your peers are struggling, the objective is to develop together and excel as a team because at the end of the day, we are fighting on the same side.”
Maj Iskandar participated in the Darwin Detachment 2020, the SAF’s first overseas detachment since the pandemic. He is recognised for his commitment to safe training amidst COVID-19 together with his fellow airmen and women. CPT Iskandar was also the Distinguished Graduate at the Tri-Service Warfighter Course.