I have lost a good friend who was a great human being and a pilot par excellence, says retired naval commander Sam T.Samuel recalling Deepak Vasant Sathe, the pilot of the ill-fated Air India Express flight that crashed killing 18 on board including the two pilots.
Sathe lost his life along with 17 others on Friday night when his aircraft skidded off the table-top runway and plunged 35 feet down from the Kozhikode airport.
Samuel now 62 and settled in Kochi, was the course mate of Sathe at the Air Force Academy Hyderabad.
"Sathe though was two years junior to me in the NDA, we were in the same course at the Hyderabad Academy during 1980-81, where we learned to fly," said Samuel.
"Whatever Sathe did had a class and a touch of his own and he always came out with flying colours, be it at the NDA or Academy and in his career in the Air Force. He was also an experienced test pilot," said Samuel.
Whenever Sathe used to fly into Kochi, we used to get around and the last time we met was when he came here last year.
"A jovial and a friendly person he was and an exceptionally talented pilot also. The aviation industry has lost a great personality and for me a good friend," said Samuel, who presently runs an adventure company, here.