Kozhikode plane crash | Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe was a highly decorated pilot

He received the Sword of Honour at Air Force Academy and was an accomplished fighter pilot

August 08, 2020 02:41 pm | Updated August 09, 2020 12:28 am IST - NEW DELHI

Captain D.V. Sathe who piloted the Air India Express flight  IX-1344 from Dubai to Calicut that crashed on landing, killing him and his co-pilot. File photo

Captain D.V. Sathe who piloted the Air India Express flight  IX-1344 from Dubai to Calicut that crashed on landing, killing him and his co-pilot. File photo

Air India Express lost two of its pilots in Friday's crash , Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar. Their families were escorted from Mumbai and New Delhi to Kozhikode early Saturday morning.

Captain Deepak Vasant Sathe, 59 years old, and the Commander of the ill-fated flight was a highly decorated pilot. He received the Sword of Honour at Air Force Academy given to the top ranking cadet, and was an accomplished fighter pilot. He was also the test pilot for Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. He joined Air India Express in 2013. He had also served in Air India.

An airline colleague of the late Captain remembered him for his “officer-like gentelmanliness” and “soft spokenness”.

“He was very approachable and many junior pilots looked up to him because he often counselled and mentored them. He was an asset to the airline and a humble person despite his long career as a pilot — first as a fighter pilot and then a commercial airline pilot,” said a senior pilot.

Click here for latest updteses on the plane crash at Calicut airport

The Indian Air Force colleagues were also devastated by the death.

“My association with him started at Air Force Station Bidar, earlier called Elementary Flying School. We were commissioned as pilot officers in 1981. He was best in our course, extremely good, hard working and knowledgeable. As a fighter pilot he flew MiG 21,” recalled Air Commodore (Retd.) Ashit Mehta who trained with him.

The friend said Sathe, who took voluntary retirement as Wing Commander, was an Experimental Test Pilot — a demanding job that requires testing planes and systems.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri said the Captain had flown 27 times to the Calicut International Airport.

Captain Sathe’s co-pilot in the cockpit, First Officer Akhilesh Kumar, was 32. He was also very familiar with the airport and its ‘critical’ status. His home base was in Kozhikode, which meant he flew in and out there quite often.

There were four cabin crew members — Shilpa Katare, Akshay Pal Singh, Lalit Kumar and Abhik Biswas. All of them are safe with only minor injuries, barring Akshay Pal Singh who will undergo a surgery for a fracture in his leg.

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