On 7th August, a tragic accident took place wherein an Air India Express flight crashed at the Karipur Airport in Kozhikode, Kerala, taking the lives of both its pilot and co-pilot.

In total, 18 people had died that unfortunate day when the plane crashed due to bad weather that had made the runway slippery and led to the plane being unable to make a safe landing.

The flight coming from Dubai had 190 passengers on board and it overshot the table-top runway at the airport due to heavy rains. This led to the plane crashing and breaking into two pieces with one falling in a valley almost 35-feet below.

News reported that pilot-in-command Captain Deepak Sathe had passed away instantly, while co-pilot Captain Abhishek Kumar succumbed to injuries later on.

Today the captain’s body was laid to rest in Mumbai with him getting full state honours and representatives from army, navy, coastguard, Mumbai police and city mayor along with his family members and some politicians too paying their respects to him.

Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Puri also stated that Pilot Sathe was one of the “most experienced and distinguished commanders – Deepak Sathe. He had landed on this airfield as many as 27 times, including this year. He was a very accomplished, experienced, decorated person in command of the aircraft. There is absolutely no doubt over their competence.” 

So here we take a look at some things that truly made him into an inspiration and not someone we should forget easily:

Sathe Probably Saved Many Lives

Many people often get confused at the low number of death rate in the crash considering how much damage to the aircraft there was.

However, it seems that might be because of the quick thinking of the pilots themselves more than anything.

Reports reveal that according to aviation experts, the decision by Sathe and Kumar to shut off the engines after touch down was very important since it ensured that the plane did not catch fire.

This eventually ended up saving the lives of many passengers who would have died if the engines had caught fire and resulted in a bigger death rate.

Indian Air Force

Captain Deepak V Sathe was a former Indian Air Force pilot and was an accomplished fighter pilot before becoming a commercial pilot.

He left the Air Force in 2003 after 22 years in it and joined Air India, later shifting to Air India Express as a captain. Sathe was from the 58th course of the National Defence Academy (NDA) and had ample experience in flying the Boeing 737 plane.

He had also received a Sword of Honour when he passed out of the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad in June 1981. He was also the recipient of the 58 NDA Gold Medal.

His Cousin’s Post

Mr. Sathe’s cousin, Nilesh Sathe, had posted an emotional and personal Facebook post a few days ago.

He said,

“It’s hard to believe that Dipak Sathe, my friend more than my cousin, is no more. He was 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 life of 180 co-passengers.

Deepak 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 Brigadier 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….”

Read More: In Pics: What Do We Know About Sikkim’s First Airport In Pakyong And The 100th Indian Airport

Had Good Impression Among Colleagues

It was a little interesting to hear that my own father had operated with Mr. Sathe early in his career.

He himself recounted his impressions about him and had nothing but good things to say about him.

Calling him a jovial and good-natured person, he particularly remembered how down-to-earth he was without any airs about him.

Usually, pilots, especially ones who are as decorated as him, often have a vanity to them, this I have personally experienced myself.

However, as per my father, Pilot Sathe had none of those, he seemed like a very approachable person and someone you would respect and admire. Instead of being vain for being a pilot, he was a humble person who did his job with seriousness and attention.

It is truly tragic to know that such a person has been lost to the world.

Image Credits: Google Images

Feature Image Credits: SSB Crack Exams

Sources: The Indian Express, India Today, Hindustan Times 

Find the blogger @chirali_08

This post is tagged under: Captain Deepak Sathe, air india pilot, air india, air india crash, IAF pilot, Indian Air Force, Pilot Deepak Sathe, Deepak Vasanth Sathe, Kozhikode, Kozhikode crash, Kozhikode Air India, Kozhikode Air India crash, Air India Express, pilot no more, hero, saved lives, dead, death, passengers, turned off the engine, celebrating, remembering

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