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Naval helicopter back in base

Special Correspondent
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The Chetak made an emergency landing in an open land due to a technical snag on Tuesday

The helicopter which made an emergency landing at Therpogi in Ramanathapuram district.
The helicopter which made an emergency landing at Therpogi in Ramanathapuram district.

The Chetak helicopter stationed at Indian Naval Station (INS) Parundu, which made an emergency landing at Therpogi near here on Tuesday evening, returned to base after an eight-hour salvage operation on Wednesday.

The IN480 Chetak helicopter with two pilots on board took off from INS Parundu at Uchipuli near here at 6.45 p.m. on Tuesday for a routine sortie but, within an hour, was forced to make an emergency landing due to a technical snag.

The pilots brought the chopper down in a clearing in the midst of a wooded area at Therpogi near Valantharavai at 7.40 p.m.

The salvage operation began shortly after Sandeep Tandon, Commanding Officer (Officiating) INS Parundu, visited the site on Wednesday morning.

The helicopter was lifted by a navy crane and mounted on a trailer after its rotor blades were removed and 400 litres of aviation turbine fuel drained out. Local police kept curious villagers at bay during the salvage operation, which encountered a hitch when the trailer got stuck in the mud.

Villagers helped extricate the trailer.

“Prima facie, there is no damage to the helicopter, but the extent of the technical snag will be known after an investigation at the base,” Mr.Tandon told reporters at the site.

He said the helicopter took off from the base after mandatory checks, but the snag in the engine warranted the unscheduled landing.

The two pilots on board – Lt Soni from Pune and Lt. Reddy from Andhra Pradesh – did the right thing by making an emergency landing in a clearing after alerting the base, he noted.

“Both the pilots were taken to the base after the landing and they are safe and sound,”he added.

Three Chetak helicopters were stationed at INS Parundu, and this was the first incident of emergency landing following a snag, he pointed out.

The open area, where the chopper landed, was skirted by ‘seema karuvelai’ (Prosopis juliflora) and rows of palm trees on the other side.

The site was a few kilometres away from Vazhuthur power plant.

P. Jaganatha Boopathy, Village Administrative Officer (VAO), Therpogi, who informed the Devipattinam police, helped the naval personnel in clearing the approach road with the help of an earthmover to facilitate movement of the trailer and the crane.

Soon after the chopper’s emergency landing, naval officers posted armed security at the site after placing gleam lights around the chopper.

The local police were posted at the outer ring.

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