It was 1700 hrs and in the helicopter unit of Indian Air Force based at Jammu, nicknamed “Condors”, Wing Commander Vishal Jain and Squadron Leader Soumya Das were mentally wrapping up the days’ work in the process of “packup” for the weekend. Little did they know that they would soon be playing saviour angels for people involved in a gruesome bus accident.
Twenty six years old Ishaq and twenty five years old Farooq along with others were travelling in a bus when the driver lost control and the bus fell in a ditch near Budhal about 30 km from Rajouri.
The nearest Indian Air Force Station at Jammu was alerted and an immediate sortie for casualty evacuation was planned. Wing Commander Vishal during the sortie planning process found that the helipad at Budhal was too small and unfit for the Russian Mi-17 1V helicopters he flies. He suggested that the casualties be brought to Rajouri by road as soon as possible and the air evacuation could be effected from Rajouri. The plan was agreed upon and the captain with his team took off for Rajouri helipad, a bigger and better equipped helipad, at close to 1740 hrs. With light fading time was of utmost importance.
Upon landing at Rajouri at 1845 hrs the crew had to wait for the casualties to be brought to Rajouri by road. Some casualties expired during the journey.
“If I had any slim chance of landing the bird at Budhal, I would have taken it. I would have been able to save a few more people” rued the captain. The helicopter with casualties and their near and dear ones took off from Rajouri helipad and landed at Jammu at 2140 hrs.”
Professionalism, dedication and devotion to duty and the zeal to perform beyond the call of duty by the aircrew of “Condors” saved lives especially of critically injured Ishaq and Farooq, who were shifted to a hospital at Jammu, where they are receiving medical care.