Sultan Mohamed Ali Al Naqbi had been due to return home to the emirates ahead of accident
Funeral held for Emirati pilot killed in Yemen plane crash
An Emirati air force pilot who died when his plane crashed in Yemen was laid to rest on Tuesday surrounded by large crowds of mourners.
The body of Second Lieutenant Pilot Sultan Mohamed Ali Al Naqbi, 23, arrived at Al Bateen Airport in Abu Dhabi on Monday night.
Earlier on Monday, the General Command of the UAE Armed Forces announced that the serviceman had died in a crash caused by a technical failure in his aircraft.
Further details of the accident were not released but the command said he was serving in the Saudi-led Arab Coalition's Operation Restoring Hope, which is seeking to restore the government in Yemen and defeat Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
Al Naqbi's brother said he had been due to leave Yemen and return to the emirates on Tuesday.
“He told us that he was coming back on Tuesday and he did return, but as a martyr, like he always wanted to be,” said Rashid Al Naqbi, 40.
“He contacted my daughter on WhatsApp on Sunday and checked on her studies. The last message he sent was to our father on Monday morning.
“We are all proud of him and his sacrifice."
The pilot trained at Khalifa bin Zayed Air College in Al Ain and his family last saw him in July, before his most recent deployment to Yemen.
“He always wanted to be a military pilot, it was his goal to do so and to serve his country at the same time," his brother said.
"He was a funny person loved by all.”
He said Al Naqbi was single but leaves behind five brothers and six sisters.
“It’s heartbreaking knowing that we won’t see him or his smile again but his sacrifice will be remembered forever - generations after generations,” said Mr Al Naqbi.
His cousin said he was loyal to his country and his family will never forget his kindness
"He was kind to everyone, friendly and respectful, it's really hard to lose such person but he gave us pride and died while serving the country that he holds in his heart," said Bader Sinan Al Naqbi.
"His heroism and sacrifice is a medal of honour that we will carry close to our hearts, he lived to be a great man and died as a martyr and we are all willing to give our lives to the country in defence of truth and justice," he said.
Funeral prayers are being held at Sheikh Saqr Al Qasimi Mosque in the Difta area of Ras Al Khaimah. He is due to be buried at Difta Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon.
Al Naqbi was the second soldier to die on Monday after First Sergeant Naser Al Mazrouei succumbed to injuries he sustained two years ago in Yemen.
The 31-year-old from Sharjah had been in a coma since being injured in September 2015 after a rocket attack on an ammunition store for the 107th Brigade caused several explosions that resulted in the deaths of about 50 Emirati soldiers.
He was being treated for severe brain injuries at Zayed Military Hospital in Abu Dhabi.