National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 27 October 2019
On 26 Oct 19, Mi 17 V5 helicopters of Indian Air Force were tasked to undertake a very challenging task of evacuating a crashed aircraft of UT Air Pvt limited from high altitude region of Kedarnath.
This private aircraft had crashed a few days back at an altitude of 11500 feet at the Kedarnath helipad, just short of the holy shrine. It was not feasible to transport the wreckage to a lower region due to only foot track connectivity to Kedarnath. The company requested IAF, through Uttarakhand civil administration, to render assistance in evacuation of their downed aircraft before the closure of Kedarnath Shrine this month end.
On the dawn of 26 Oct 19, two helicopters were pressed into action, with one of them tasked to provide logistical support and the other for extricating the downed civilian aircraft by carrying it underslung. The IAF crew displayed deft handling, the aircraft was hooked below the helicopter and then skillfully flown back through the narrow valley, all the way to Sahastradhara near Dehradun.
The safe evacuation is testimony to the responsiveness of the IAF in support of the civilian administration and the skill of IAF aircrew.
Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 15 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.