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Saturday, 26 March 2016

25 Years On, Air Force Memorialises Death of 28 in IAF Plane Crash By Kiran Parashar K M

 

Published: 25th March 2016 06:03 AM  Last Updated: 25th March 2016 06:09 AM

 

On March 25, 1991, around 8 am, a group of young and enthusiastic Indian Air Force technical trainees were eagerly waiting for their first travel experience in a Defence aircraft. But what happened next turned out to be one of the most tragic episodes in the country’s defence memoirs. The plane crashed, leaving 25 trainees and three crew members dead, minutes after take-off.

Exactly 25 years later, families of the deceased are planning to meet in Bengaluru to commemorate the youngsters. The youths had just passed out of Air Force Technical College, Jalahalli.

The incident still haunts the air force officials who witnessed it. One of them is retired flight lieutenant Sajan Zacharias.

“We had finished 21 days of training and were eagerly waiting to travel in Avro HS 748. Most of us were boarding an aircraft for the first time,” Zacharias said.

“Around 70 promising technical trainees, aged between 22 and 24, all engineering graduates, reached Yelahanka Air Force station early in the morning. It was a part of their curriculum to travel in an air force vehicle. A senior official divided us into four to five groups and the first team boarded Avro HS 748. The others remained near the air traffic control room. Minutes after the flight took off, it crashed. It took some time to identify the flight. We were waiting anxiously and then came the confirmation that the flight which crashed was that carrying the trainee staff. We were shocked and did not know how to respond to the situation,” he said.

“Soon, a senior official came and asked us to call our parents and inform them that we are safe.

“The team was yet to come out of the shock after the incident. A few days later, there were many senior officials from Defence who came to us and gave motivational speeches. They said we have to move forward after we lose our loved ones.”

‘We Look At March 25 As The Day We Were Reborn’

Every year on March 25, I look at the day as the one I was reborn and ask myself what have I contributed to the country in this second life. It could have been any of us that day. I feel, we should never take life for granted,” said retired flight lieutenant Sajan Zacharias, who now trains people from various sectors about life skills.

The Man Who Carried the Coffins

Retired Wing Commander A K Das, who was a 22-year-old engineering graduate then, was also among those who was at the accident spot on the fateful day.

“Twenty-five years after the incident, we still remember those people who passed away in the crash,” he said.

Recalling the aftermath of the incident, Das said, “On March 28, I was among the trainees who carried the coffins to Wilson Garden crematorium. The people I had met only a few days ago were now in coffins I was carrying. It was a shocker. However, being in defence, one has to be positive enough to handle such a situation.”

“I was also asked to coordinate with the family members of the deceased who rushed to Bengaluru the very next day. They had many questions for us. They were in shock and were heartbroken. Though we were still recovering from the shock, we took care of the victims’ families.”

Father Sets up Memorial for Son

Pilot Officer Vikram Chowhan’s father Colonel M P S Chowhan set up a school in his son’s name — Vikram Bal Vidya Mandir — near his ancestral village in Uttar Pradesh.

The school has at least 1,000 students from nearby villages and has been donated to the Uttar Pradesh government for its functioning.

Col Chowhan passed away in 2013.

avro hs 748 air tragedy march 25, 1991

Twenty-five years after a plane crash at Yelahanka Air Force Station left 25 IAF technical trainees and three crew members dead, families of the deceased plan to commemorate their loved ones in Bengaluru

An Indian Air Force Avro aircraft crashes at the Yelahanka Air Force Station on March 25, 1991, killing 28

Those killed include crew members and cadet technical officers of Air Force Technical College, Jalahalli

Soon after take-off, pilot reports a technical snag. the plane touches down the airfield’s rocky terrain

Fire tenders put off the flames within 15 minutes of the crash but find only the charred remains of the victims

8.15 am crash-land

Following technical snag, the pilot tries to forcefully land, causing the plane to go up in flames

The AVRO that Crashed

The Indian Air Force AVRO HS-748 was manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at Kanpur in the mid-sixties. It was among the first batch of AVROs handed over to the Air Force for transport duties.

The AVRO that Crashed

The Indian Air Force AVRO HS-748 was manufactured under licence by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd at Kanpur in the mid-sixties. It was among the first batch of AVROs handed over to the Air Force for transport duties.

What is AVRO 748?

The plane was being used by the VVIP communication squadron of the Indian Air Force for VIP movement. The AVROs were also used as passenger planes by Vayudoot — a regional airline which was a joint-venture between Indian Airlines and Air India.

First & The Last Ride

 

http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/bengaluru/25-Years-On-Air-Force-Memorialises-Death-of-28-in-IAF-Plane-Crash/2016/03/25/article3344784.ece

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