On Friday night, In a horrific tragedy, An Air India Express flight crashed at Kozhikode International Airport, Kerala. The plane while landing on a tabletop runway skidded, nosedived into two pieces, And fell into a 30-feet valley.
Officials say they believe the crash was due to heavy rains, which made visibility very low and caused the aircraft to overshoot. The plane itself was a 13-year-old Boeing 737-8.
With with 190 people on board, 14 persons are confirmed as dead, Including both pilots, Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe, and the co-pilot was First Officer Akhilesh Kumar. And over a 120 people are listed as injured.
The trip was part of the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission, which has been bringing back Indians trapped abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Who was Capt Deepak Sathi?
He was a decorated officer was an alumnus of the National Defence Academy in Pune and also a former Indian Air Force Officer.
Sathe was formerly in the Indian Air Force, where he served for 22 years from 1981.
This is sad. WingCo Sathe was a comrade in arms at ASTE (IAF's flight testing establishment) with me. RIP Tester.
(Call signs of all test pilots has prefix 'Tester'). #AirIndiaExpress
— Manmohan Bahadur (@BahadurManmohan) August 7, 2020
The captain had flown the MiG-21 fighter aircraft with 17 Squadron (Golden Arrows) in Ambala.
He had a 30-year long flying record during which he worked for 18 years with Air India.
He was the topper of our course. Stood first and won the prestigious Sword of Honour on 11 Jun 1981. My his soul rest in peace 🙏😞
— Gp Capt Christopher (Retd) (@bcchristopher) August 7, 2020
Air Marshal Bhushan Gokhale (Retd) shared a few things about the late Captain,
“Capt Deepak V Sathe was from 58th course of National Defence Academy, Pune. He was from Juliet Squadron. Sathe passed out from Air Force Academy with Sword of Honour in June 1981 and was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force.”
The squadron that captain Sathi belonged to fought in the 1999 Kargil war and has been recently resurrected with the induction of Rafale jet fighters.
Capt Sathi had served as an instructor at the Air Force Training Academy and had opted for premature retirement from the IAF. After that, he started civilian flying and became a part of Air India.
Heartbreaking. Capt Deepak Sathe was a former Air Force Pilot and also flew through Airbus 310 for air India before moving to air India express on the 737. Sathe won sword of honour at the AFA and was accomplished fighter pilot,he was HAL test pilot too. pic.twitter.com/z4kTnGugRN
— Anisha Dutta (@A2D2_) August 7, 2020
Sathe, who’s the son of an Army officer, was an outstanding cadet. He was excellent in academics and was a captain of the NDA Golf and Squash teams.
He graduated from the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad with a Sword of Honour in June 1981. He had also been an instructor in the IAF training academy and retired from the force in 2003.
Former Wing Commander Sharma said about Sathi that,
“He was an easygoing person who never shied away from helping others and went out of his way for that. He was good in studies … and won a gold medal but spent hours helping out people who were not so academically sound, to understand their problem.”
Here’s how he ensured minimum fatalities:
Former Wing Commander Sharma also said that,
Sathe would have taken great efforts to ensure the aircraft did not catch fire as that would have increased the fatalities.
“He surely ensured the aircraft did not catch fire because if that would have happened, the fatalities would have gone up,” he said.
Despite plunging 35-feet into a gorge and breaking into two, the aircraft didn’t catch fire, thus saving hundreds of lives on onboard.
This happened due to the presence of mind of Capt Sathi, He turned off the plane’s engine right before the crash, thus ensuring that it didn’t catch fire upon crash landing, and, in the process, saving several lives.
Many people applauded his professionalism even at the cost of life and his presence of mind:
Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe is a very experienced hand at pilots seat. He saved many a lives in yesterday’s AI Express plane crash at Kozhikode by switching off the engine. Sadgati to his soul. Salutes to his professionalism even at the cost of life .
— B L Santhosh (@blsanthosh) August 8, 2020
Survivors of the crash also lauded the captain:
“It was raining heavily. The pilot had given a warning before landing saying the weather was really bad. He tried for safe landing twice but lost control. The aircraft shot off the runway and skidded off and it broke into two pieces. It was a miraculous escape for many,” V Ibrahim, one of the passengers who survived with minor injuries, said.
Many people in Kerala gathered up in queues to donate blood to those in need after the news of flight crash,
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