"To Lead, To Excel and To Overcome"

That is the creed every Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officer recites, and those are the very principles Singapore Youth Flying Club (SYFC) graduate Muhammad Iskandar lives by.

Today, CPT Iskandar is a fighter pilot in the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), entrusted to plan, lead and execute various complex multinational operations and exercises in the SAF. Since joining the RSAF in 2008, CPT Iskandar has excelled in his job, 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 Training Center in Canada (NFTC). In 2012, the RSAF Fighter Group presented him with the 144 Squadron’s Best Fighter Pilot Award.

CPT Iskandar, who is also a recipient of the SAF Academic Scholarship, 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 Master in Public Policy at the University of Oxford.

We spoke to him to gain an insight into his journey with the SYFC.


I started my SYFC journey in 2001 in Secondary 1 as part of the CCA Aeromodelling programme. Under the guidance of the instructors, I learnt how to build a control-line airplane from scratch, gaining a hands-on appreciation of flight mechanics. Subsequently in 2005, I joined the 138th Basic Flying Course (BFC), where I learnt how to fly the PA-28 Piper Warrior and the theory behind flying operations. I remember the first 10 sorties being really challenging, but I was fortunate to have completed the BFC and been selected to undergo the PPL phase. 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.


My SYFC journey played a fundamental role in shaping me into who I am today. I learnt how to stay calm under pressure in SYFC. I clearly remember the words of my Primary Instructor (PI) Mr Simon Sim, 'I am not here to teach you only how to fly this Piper Warrior, I am here to teach you how to have the instinct to become a fighter pilot one day'. Therefore, in every flight I faced different forms of challenges as I attempted to fly while maintaining situational awareness. Looking back, I know that the consistent element of being challenged in the SYFC shaped my ability to remain calm under pressure today – a vital skill for any fighter pilot.

In addition, SYFC also instilled in me the sense of grit and camaraderie. The PPL phase was challenging for me as my brother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. That meant spending many hours at the hospital wards while juggling my academic curriculum, the flying preparations and completing the CAAS examinations. With the support of my ground school instructor Mr. Preetwant Singh and my fellow PPL course mates, I overcame all those obstacles to successfully complete the PPL programme and my GCE ’A‘ Levels. Therefore, SYFC taught me that flying is not a solo achievement, it requires the collective effort of a team. There is no point in 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.

More importantly, the training I gained from SYFC prepared me to be an operational fighter pilot in the RSAF, to lead others, to excel in everything I do, and to overcome adversity with courage, fortitude and determination.