Irhad Rizvo Duraković (born 3rd of March 1987 in Sarajevo) was an aviation and flight simulation enthusiast, active VATSIM member and contributor, founder and director of vACCBiH. By his untimely death in 2011 he was loved and respected as a pilot, ATC, mentor and friend by many in our community and he is still remembered and missed internationally.
Here we have collected some memories and tributes to Irhad, written by his VATSIM colleagues and friends.
Aviation enthusiasm was the reason to our friendship
by Mirza IbrahimovićI have read about Irhad in the end of the 90’ies, where he together with me was among the only ones from Bosnia-Herzegovina committed to virtual aviation and hereby producing repaints and sceneries. We shared a contact via a readme file email, and our friendship began.
As both being aviation enthusiasts, we got involved in BiH aviation forums, began to contribute on our never learned Bosnian language, as we both fled due to war as 4 and 6 year old. Together we learned the language by communicating and felt to share same passion and same past, both refugees and both growing up without a dad.
We began flying on various multiplayer servers, and about 5 years ago began talking about the idea of creating a Bosnia-Herzegovina division on VATSIM, the popular online flying network. The process went on, we met every summer in Sarajevo and Copenhagen to research and brainstorm. Were spotting on airports, convincing BiH aviation officials that aviation is not necessary a military secret, listening to the frequencies via his radio in his apartment on the runway 12 final path , taking on trips to the Croatian coast and skiing in the Winter Olympic mountains around Sarajevo.
In the background we were hereby creating vACCBiH from our hearth with passion, created the unofficial vACC and introducing new members with support from neighboring CROvACC and SCGvACC. vACCBiH became official over a year ago, but Irhad began slowly to disappear, due to studies he said, but due to illness we later learned.
Irhad slowly began to feel ill and had several problems, that he did not announce officially, regardless how close friends we were and how many night hours we talked about several personal problems. Later he was losing the control of his temperament, balance, actions, began to have difficulties moving and latest talking. It happened in that a short period, that none of us could believe it. All symptoms of CJD, virus that is attacking the brain and the person is hereby losing control, but full aware of everything. His illness rapidly progressed, and on Tuesday the 27th of July 2011 (and very symbolically on the 10th anniversary of VATSIM) he lost his 1,5 year long fight to nvCJD at the age of 24.
We, his friends, and the members of vACCBiH have carried on the vACC in his spirit and also arranged an annual fly-in event in memory of our Irhad. May he rest in peace and be remembered through our thoughts.
Photos of Irhad
My friend Irhad
by Nikola Tutorić
Irhad and me met first in August 2007 when I joined VATSIM network. As I am an aviation enthusiast, he was the first person I had ever met with the same interests. Since august 2007 he helped me a lot in virtual flying and ATC. He was my mentor and instructor within vACCBiH and gave me my first student 1 rating. Further, we worked together on vACCBiH and our real life aviation experiences, shared it to each other.
First time I met him in real life was in November 2008. On his travel from Sarajevo back to London. It was about 3 o’clock in the morning when his bus made a brake in Banjaluka on its trip to Zagreb.
He brought me radio scanner with air band thus he provided me with something special, listening to the RL ATC. I am very thankful to him about his gift and scanner is still functional and presents to me a memory of him.
In autumn 2009 He invited me to visit him in London. This way he did something special to me and my brother. I visited him in January 2010. He provided me with free bed, food and tourist tours through London for 5 days. It is a sign of his cordiality and unselfishness.
But the time of my visit to London also was time of the beginning his illness.
He told me that he forgets very often and sometimes stops in speaking because he does not remember what he wanted to say. I noticed it also. It was the first sign.
While I was in London, we spoke about vACCBiH and future plans. We made some plans even immediately after my return to Banjaluka. But I did not take a notion that he will never again be active on network and even that were his last activities.
I consider him as person most deserving for my success in aviation and he was my first connection to virtual and real life aviation in BiH. And also, he helped me develop real aviation love.
Our friendship lasted short but it was very strong even if I did not meet him very often. He was also a person that I could ask anything and he helped in all other life activities, beside aviation.
Rest in Peace and thank you for all you've done for me!... He was just 23 years old. Bosnia & Herzegovina is a relatively new vACC for VATSIM Europe Division and Irhad worked very hard alongside his colleagues in this area as well as my team and me in the EUD Training Department at the time to get it off the ground. He did some sterling work until his health rather suddenly and rapidly deteriorated and I feel certain that he would have gone on to share his passion for the hobby and determination to see things done right beyond vACC level.
It seems a strange coincidence that Irhad was taken from us on VATSIM's 10th Anniversary (27th) because admiration of aviation was a huge part of Irhad's life and so the platform to simulate this in conditions somewhat akin to real world conditions allowed him to practice something that he certainly could not do at the time for real. Whilst Irhad may never have got the chance to pursue his dream real world, at least he got part of the way there through his love of flight simulation.
Thomas George, Region Director, VATSIM Europe
A video tribute to Irhad by Eastavia VA
As a relatively new pilot in VATSIM I never had the chance to meet Irhad in the virtual skies, but flying frequently in the region, I've witnessed and heard the great love and appreciation all vACCBiH controllers have for Irhad and for his immense contribution and dedication to the division and to the VATSIM network as a whole. I've experienced the genuine passion, openness, friendliness and professionalism of BiH ATCOs and these are a lasting tribute to Irhad's spirit and inspiration. Undoubtedly all of us, pilots and controllers alike, who have by good chance wandered into the aura of his influence will carry on a piece of his passion and goodwill.