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Wing Commander S M Yunus, first pilot in Kedarnath

Discussion in 'Indian Air Force' started by Manmohan Yadav, Jun 26, 2013.

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  1. Manmohan Yadav

    Manmohan Yadav Brigadier STAR MEMBER

    Jul 1, 2011
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    When the IAF flew it first sortie to save pilgrims trapped by the raging waters of the Alaknanda in Kedarnath, at the cockpit was Wing Commander S M Yunus.

    Commanding officer of the 152 Helicopter Unit based at Sarsawa Air Force Station, Yunus first got the message about the disaster on June 16. The rains, which had been pouring since June 14, had begun rampaging by the next day.

    On June 17, Yunus landed at Dehradun's Jolly Grant helipad. The next morning, around 9am, he was off to Kedarnath in his Mi-17 V5 chopper, IAF's newest and most powerful acquisition with a carrying capacity of 3 tonnes.


    The first batch of 20 people was evacuated to Guptkashi. From there, they made their way to Dehradun . Yunus reckons he might have flown about 500 people in innumerable sorties to safety. He is still at it. "We continued the operation on June 18 and 19," he said from his current location in Joshimath. "I was then told to rescue people from the more isolated Harsil sector, ahead of Uttarkashi, and in a restricted helipad at about 6000 ft."

    Bad weather and poor visibility made things difficult . Add to that the terrain and Yunus' job was cut out. "When we landed at Kedarnath, roughly 9,600ft, the helipad had been washed away. We had to rescue people from the ridge.

    Twice we set out on our mission and had to return to base as landing was impossible ." Yunus changed course and went to Badrinath on June 20, from where 25 pilgrims were brought to the safer Joshimath. The sorties continued. On June 23, he airlifted more than 200 from Badrinath and brought them to Joshimath.

    "In fact, even today (June 24), when the whole day the weather has been bad, we tried to reach Badrinath, but had to return empty handed," said the 38-year-old officer from Bhagalpur in Bihar. Yunus joined IAF in 1995 as a pilot officer , a rank that has now been abolished. These days they start as flying officer .

    So what was it like for a Muslim to be one of the first to come to the aid of Hindu pilgrims? Yunus laughs out loud before giving a quick answer. "In the Air Force we are taught only one religion - to be Indian . That is what IAF pilots are trained to be. Had it not been for such tragic circumstances, I would have been grateful and happy to see the holy shrine."
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  2. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

    May 1, 2012
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    This shows the commitment of the Indian Army and IAF. Shame on these scums to make it political. If not these guys should be commended for their valor. :tup: Great Job.
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  3. Rock n Rolla

    Rock n Rolla Lt. Colonel STAR MEMBER

    Apr 14, 2013
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    Seriously!! the stupid journalist asked this to an serving IAF officer. :hitwall:
  4. WMD


    Nov 8, 2012
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    Few lines comes to mind when I think of our soldiers

    Salute to all Indian soldiers who are rescuing the pilgrims by risking their own lives.
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