In a horrific tragedy, an Air India Express flight from Dubai, carrying 180 passengers, crashed and broke apart into two pieces at the Kozhikode International Airport, Kerala. Captain (Wing Commander) Dipak Vasant Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar lost their lives along with 18 passengers.
A former Indian Air Force Wing Commander, Wg Cdr Sathe graduated from the Air Force Academy at Dundigal near Hyderabad in June 1981, and served for 22 years.
In a Facebook post, his cousin, Nilesh Sathe, recalled how the deceased pilot survived an air crash in the early nineties when he was in the IAF. “He was hospitalised for 6 months for multiple skull injuries and nobody thought that he would fly again. But his strong will power and love for flying made him clear the test again. It was a miracle.”
Last Conversation with Wg Cdr Dipak Sathe
A week before the accident, Nilesh and Wg Cdr Dipak Sathe had had a conversation about the ‘Vande Bharat’ Mission.
“He was proud of bringing back our countrymen from Arab countries. I asked him, do you carry empty aircraft since those countries are not allowing entry of passengers? He had replied, Oh, No. We carry fruits, vegetables, medicines, etc to these countries, and never the aircraft flies to these countries empty.”
Wg Cdr Dipak Sathe is survived by his wife and two sons. His brother, Capt Vikas, was an Armyman who laid down his life while serving in the Jammu region.
Here’s the full post –
It’s hard to believe that Dipak Sathe, my friend more than my cousin, is no more. He was a pilot of Air India Express carrying passengers from Dubai in ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, which skidded off the runway at Kozhikode International Airport yesterday night.
What is learnt is as follows:
Landing gears didn’t work.
Ex IAF pilot made three rounds of airport to empty the fuel which saved 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.
Dipak was an experienced aerial operator with 36 years of flying experience. A passout of NDA, topper in the 58th course and an awardee of ‘Sword of Honour’, Dipak served Indian Air Force for 21 years before joining as a Commercial Pilot with Air India in 2005.
He called me just a week before and was jovial, as always. When I asked him about the ‘Vande Bharat’ Mission, he was proud of bringing back our countrymen from Arab countries. I asked him,”Dipak, do you carry empty Aircraft since those countries are not allowing entry of passengers?” He had replied,” Oh, No. We carry fruits, vegetables,medicines etc to these countries and never the aircraft flies to these countries empty.” That was my last conversation with him.
He survived in air crash in early nineties when he was in Airforce. He was hospitalised for 6 months for multiple skull injuries and nobody thought that he will fly again. But his strong will power and love for flying made him clear the test again. It was a miracle.
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.
A soldier lays his life to save the lives of his countrymen.
It reminds me of a poem by a soldier :
If I die in a war zone,
Box me up & send me home
Put my medals on my chest,
Tell my Mom I did the best
Tell my Dad not to bow,
He won’t get tension from me now,
Tell my brother to study perfectly,
Keys of my bike will be his permanently
Tell my Sis not to be upset,
Her Bro will not rise after this sunset
And tell my love not to cry,
“Because I am a soldier Born to Die….”
… Nilesh Sathe
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)