One of the pilots of the Air India Express plane that skidded off the runway and broke into two at Kerala’s Kozhikode is among the 17 who died.
Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe was a decorated former combat pilot.
Wing Commander Sathe, who was with the Indian Air Force, flew planes for Air India before he went on to Air India Express flights.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was described as very experienced in flying Boeing 737 planes. He was very professional and had been awarded the 58 NDA President trophy. He had been a pilot for the Air Force,” said a politician.
According to reports, Captain Sathe flew Airbus 310s for Air India. He won the sword of honour at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad and was an accomplished combat pilot before he decided to become a billboard pilot. The flight was a part of the Vande Bharat programme that has been bringing back Indians from abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The runway was slick with very heavy rainfall when the aircraft landed at 7.41 PM.