A Ride to Remember the Sukhoi Tragedy
Nariswari Dita Yudianti
Forty days after the Sukhoi Superjet 100 crashed on Mount Salak in West Java during a demonstration flight, two cycling groups held an event to honor three journalists who were killed in the accident.
The groups, the Rajawali Corpora Cycling Community (RC3) and the Journalist Mountain Bike (Journalist MTB) community, organized an 18-kilometer cycling ride on Saturday on an off-road trail in Cijeruk, Bogor.
They chose a route that allowed cyclists to observe where the accident and evacuation process took place — starting at a football field that was used as a Sukhoi evacuation command post and finishing at the Bogor Nirwana Residence.
The event, which was called Gowes Untuk Sahabat (Ride as Fellows), honored Femi Adi Soempeno, a reporter from Bloomberg; D.N. Yusuf, a reporter from Majalah Angkasa; and Aditya Sukardi, a cameraman from Trans TV. They had been members of the cycling groups before the accident, which killed all 45 people on board. Their bodies were found during the 10-day evacuation process and identified over the following two weeks.
“This event is a spontaneous initiative by our fellows riders who regularly went bike riding with Femi,” Heru Prijono, an RC3 member who helped coordinate the ride, said during a brief opening speech.
“We don’t mean to commemorate them in sadness. Instead, this biking convoy is meant to honor them and our strong brotherhood through one of our favorite things: biking.
“Through riding we can always feel their presence with us, and we want to show the world the kind of brotherhood that we hold.”
The Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet 100 went missing on May 9, about an hour into what was intended to be a short demonstration flight to show off its capabilities and lure prospective buyers.
Rescuers were sent to the mountain and the plane’s debris was spotted the next day. More teams of rescuers were then sent to help recover the victims.
The remains of the victims were officially handed over to their families during a ceremony at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta on May 23.
Heru said the three journalists were ambitious and had many plans before the accident. Femi had planned to undertake a bike ride in Medan by the end of this year, and next year she wanted to go to Europe. Aditya had planned to bike 1,000 kilometers from Jakarta to Bali.
In addition to honoring Femi, Yusuf, and Aditya, the cyclists at the event on Saturday donated a set of football equipment to the caretaker of the Pasir Pogor football field in Cijeruk, which was transformed into an emergency helipad during the Sukhoi evacuation process.
The cycling groups also organized a memorial ceremony during which each cyclist tied a yellow ribbon on a tree as a sign of their support for the victims. Tying yellow ribbons on a tree is a worldwide tradition that symbolizes the love we have for people we can’t tell directly.
The coordinators also chose yellow ribbons in memory of Femi, who loved the color yellow because her father suffered from cancer, and yellow ribbons are also used as a sign of support for cancer patients. She used to buy merchandise from the Livestrong foundation, which donates a portion of its sales to people with cancer.
Gowes Untuk Sahabat was open to the public and managed to attract about 130 riders to join the convoy. Some of the cyclists were representatives from RC3 and Journalist MTB, and others were part of cycling communities Transbike and Kompas Gramedia Cyclist.
“We are here as representatives from the Bogor regional government to show our sympathy to the Sukhoi victims,” said Adang Suptandar, the inspectorate chief of Bogor district and a member of Matador Bogor, a cycling community whose members consist of officers from the Bogor government.
“At the same time,” he said, “we want to show people that the hobby of bike riding is not just a leisure activity but also a social activity.”
“This is a really good initiative to gather bike riders to pray together and to remind us that death is just a matter of time,” he added.
“Accidents can happen to any one of us, and this should help us to be more careful in whatever it is that we’re doing.”