National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 09 September 2018
Hazik Mushtaq Beigh and his friends were trekking in the Kolahai Glacier area when the team fell in a crevasse; two of the team were fatally injured. Hazik suffered injuries which required his immediate evacuation to a medical facility. Western Air Command of Indian Airforce launched two Cheetah helicopters, of the Udhampur based Hovering Hawks unit who happened to be at Srinagar at that point. Two choppers were necessary due to the inhospitable terrain and the poor weather conditions in the general area of operations. The leader of Falcon formation was Wg Cdr Vishal Mehta with Flt Lt Mittal as the co-pilot. The plan was to winch the casualty into the heptr as no suitable landing site was available.
Upon reaching the site Wg Cdr Mehta realised that Hazik could not be winched due to his serious injuries, so both heptrs flew to Awantipur and removed the side doors, picked up a guide enroute from Lidru and reached the spot once again. The weather during the entire period was marginal.The elevation of the place is 12000ft which added to the piloting difficulties of the small heptr. The captain of the lead aircraft Mehta decided to find a small spot of flat land nearby and touchdown.
Having picked up Hazik both heptrs flew back to base. “The spot was such it did not offer any place to land, we had established that winching the casualty was out of question, hence only one option was left. I told my wingman to orbit overhead while I tried to land on a small flat land. The landing called upon my entire experience and training as a helicopter pilot. It was immensely satisfying when Hazik was saved” said the mission leader and captain of the lead aircraft Wg Cdr Vishal Mehta.
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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.