Real People. Real Stories.
These are people I’ve met at various times in my life and this is my attempt to connect all their stories- one story at a time.
My father climbed into the fishing boat in the middle of the Arabian sea and held on to the thin rope which was tied to his helicopter drifting at a distance.
This incident made headlines in the national and local newspapers in India in 2002 and heralded the pilot Capt. Ram Singh a real life hero. Even now when I think of this incident, I fight back tears.
May 7th, 2002
It was a routine flight. My father got into his dauphin helicopter parked on the oil rig in Bombay High. He had to fly back to the base with some engineers and other passengers.
Routine. He was one of the most senior, decorated and experienced pilots in Pawan Hans with years of flying under his belt.
Flying was his passion, his true calling and he loved every minute of it.
The weather seemed absolutely fine on that afternoon of May 7th, 2002. His co-pilot was Capt. Michael Daruwalla and they had flown together on many flights.
My father did the checks and took off from the oil rig. After only a couple of minutes of take off, both the engines of his helicopter failed. Now, in technical terms if the engines of a chopper fail, the pilot gets a few seconds in which s/he must lower the pitch, reducing the lift and drag and the helicopter will descend. If the pilot does not do this quick enough, he will lose control and the chopper will drop like a rock.
The Dauphin, my father was flying that day baulked in the air for a second and this is the time my father got. He tells us his reflexes took over, he did not have time to think, his mind was blank. He just acted. His years of training, presence of mind, calm strength and courage took over.
He autorotated the chopper in a matter of split seconds and landed it in the middle of the sea with floats and all passengers safe without a scratch.
They were rescued in the high sea by a passing by fishing boat.
My father ensured all the passengers were safely on board the trawler and then he and his co-pilot climbed aboard the trawler.
My father held on tightly to the thin rope which was tied to the helicopter. He would not let go off the rope for the next 100 kms!
By this time, there were lots of ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Commission ) rescue personnel in the sea as well as two helicopters hovering overhead.
The sea thankfully was not rough that day.
Everyone, including my father and his co-pilot were taken safely to the nearby oil rig, Sevak.
Capt. Daruwalla, the great swimmer then jumped into the sea to tie crane ropes on the chopper’s rotor head and the helicopter was safely picked up and landed on Sevak.
My father, the instant he was on the oil rig went into the radio officer’s room and called my mother who was in hospital undergoing chemotherapy. He told her he would be back the next day and all was well.
The helicopter was successfully transported back to base and with a lot of work done by the engineers, my father was able to successfully fly it again!
I remember getting calls from Pawan Hans and from ONGC congratulating us. I remember the news reporters and the media who came home and wrote articles on the story.
But most of all I remember my father’s calm face when he came home the next day and told us what had happened.
This is my humble tribute to a great man.
Papa, your strength, commitment and dedication has been and continues to be the backbone of our family.
You inspire us to challenge our limits, work tirelessly and have no fear in life.
Happy Father’s Day- We love you.
My dear friend who has various masters degrees in engineering and finance left her home in China and has embraced life in Sydney. She has taken challenges head on- from learning and mastering the english language, completing her masters in finance, buying her home, becoming an involved member of the community and school and getting a job.
And she does it with a smile and with a very warm heart.