The Kerala plane crash tragedy has been one of the most unfortunate incidents of this year. The Vande Bharat Mission’s Air India flight from Dubai to Kozhikode met with an unlikely fate and skid off the airport, resulting in the loss of a few lives. Air India pilot and retired IAF Wing Commander Deepak Sathe was one of those who lost their lives to the incident.
Writing an obituary for the deceased soul, his cousin Nilesh Sathe remembered the bravery with which the pilot handled the situation. He mentioned, “Landing gears didn’t work. Ex IAF pilot (Deepak) made three rounds of airport to empty the fuel which saved the plane from catching fire. That’s why there was no smoke seen coming from the crashed aircraft. He turned off the engine right before the crash. He belly landed after the 3rd iteration. The right wing was ruptured. The Pilot martyred but saved the lives of 180 co-passengers.”
Explaining his legacy as an air force man, Nilesh added that Deepak had a flying experience of 36 years. He was an NDA pass out and also an awardee of 'Sword of Honour', serving the Indian Air Force for 21 years. He joined Air India in 2005.
Remembering their last conversation, Nilesh wrote, “When I asked him about the 'Vande Bharat' Mission, he was proud of bringing back our countrymen from Arab countries.”
The late pilot has earlier survived an air crash. Despite being hospitalised for 6 months, he was back to the field within sometime. The post read about his family, “He leaves behind his wife and two sons, both pass outs of IIT Mumbai. He is a son of Colonel Vasant Sathe who stays in Nagpur along with his wife. His brother, Capt Vikas, was also an Armyman who laid his life while serving in Jammu region.”
As many as 172 people have been hospitalised after the accident, with officials involved in the rescue operations saying that 16 of them are in a critical condition. Civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri said the accident appears to have been caused by a slippery runway as the pilot attempted to land on the table top runway amid heavy rains.
The death toll from the crash of an Air India Express plane that overshot the runway in heavy rain near Kozhikode could have been higher had the pilot not switched off the engine in time, union minister V Muraleedharan, who visited the accident site on Saturday, said.
Not just that. Deepak Sathe was an experienced pilot who had flown this very route multiple times. "The aircraft was captained and operated by one of our most distinguished, experienced commanders, Captain DeepakVasant Sathe. In fact, the Captain had more than 10,000 hours of flying experience. He has landed on this very air piece, Ithink as many as 27 times including this year", Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.