You must have heard a lot of inspiring stories about many defence personnel who fought for us during wars. But there are some stories which often go unnoticed, some bravery‘s where people save lives even when there is no war situation.
So let’s begin with a story of an Indian Air Force (IAF) Officer, namely Wg Cdr Ravinder Ahlawat who was successful in saving many human lives just because of his excellent presence of mind and the oath he took before joining the IAF, “Service before self”.
This is a story from the year 2016, Wg Cdr Ravinder Ahlawat was authorized to carry out a ‘Range Instructional Technique’ (RIT) maneuver over Pokharan Range in Mirage 2000 Trainer aircraft as the captain of the aircraft on 26 July 2016. He was flying using the front cockpit.
A major blunder happened when a bird hit the aircraft in a turn while he was carrying out “Pull Up Attack” circuit, at 500 ft above ground level at high speeds. It’s true that lot of major accidents in the history of plane crashes have happened due to bird hits.
This particular bird hit was so severe, that the impact completely shattered the canopy Perspex(solid transparent plastic made of polymethyl methacrylate ,the same material as Plexiglas or Lucite), it broke the glass separator between the front and the rear cockpit, damaged the front pilot ejection system and the bird also hit Wg Cdr Ahlawat ruining his helmet, breaking his visor and injuring his face, neck, arms and chest. This resulted into copious bleeding and nearly debilitating him.
Wg Cdr started bleeding drastically with the blood flowing down his face and also the bird remains got stuck to his face. With this situation, he had limited vision remained onto his left eye only. He had to take emergency actions, despite of his injuries, shock of impact and high wind blast. He had negligible reaction time as the aircraft was flying at a low level; he had to take his decisions within fraction of seconds.
So, he successfully took all the necessary emergency actions appropriately. By his actions he was going to save the people in a village of a close neighborhood of the Pokharan range and also the aircraft. The rear pilot was now unable to see the runway due to the Perspex being masked.
Now, without the front pilot, who was Wg Cdr Ahlawat taking actions the aircraft would be dumped to ground. And there were also chances of ejection system failure due to the damage, so the only way of saving his and his co-pilots life, the villager’s life and the aircraft was to land it safely.
By gathering all his courage together, he used his one hand to open his left eye while he took over controls with his other hand and regardless of unbearable injuries, limited binocular vision and with the canopy perspex blown off, he managed a safe landing of the aircraft, on the nearest runway of the Air Force Base.
His bravery and presence of mind and the attitude of never giving up, helped save a lot of lives on the ground and also managed to save an expensive national asset(the aircraft).
Wing Commander Ravinder Ahlawat was awarded with a Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) from President Ram Nath Kovind on 71st Indian Independence Day. A gallantry award for showing his true dedication and bravery towards our nation and its people.