Kannadiga pilot turns savior in Kerala

Kannadiga pilot turns savior in Kerala

Sarang Helicopter Display team involved in supplying essential items to flood affected people in Kerala.

The recent Kerala floods posed equal challenges to both the victims and rescuers. The high wind speed and continuous downpour had put lives of both at risk.

However, that did not deter the 14 pilots of Sarang Helicopter Display team headed by Wing Commander Girish Komar, a native of Bagalkot, from testing the limits of themselves and of the seven machines they flew for almost five days in parts of Aluva, Chalakudy, Pulinchode, Chengannur and other areas of Kerala.

Every day, each of these pilots flew their Sarang helicopters close to high-rise buildings, coconut trees and many challenging areas from dawn to dusk rescuing hundreds of people and also airdropping essential items to the victims.

“The flood damage is unimaginable and immeasurable. As far as one could see, there was water and water, which had marooned houses even up to first and second floors in several areas,” said Girish speaking to DH over the phone.

The continuous rains and coconut trees posed these pilots their biggest challenges including winching pregnant women, aged persons and infants to safety. The advanced light helicopter (ALH) evaluation flights, an all-weather multi-mission capable helicopter manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Bengaluru is one among the best in the business. However, the adverse conditions in Kerala posed a challenge to even these machines while airlifting the victims, and dropping food/medicines.

In every devastated area, one rescuer used to winch down and make sure that persons in need of eviction are secured and lifted to safety. “Assuring the victims of safety while being winced was one really tough, as one wrong move would result in bigger tragedy,” said Girish, who ensured several pregnant women and dialysis patients to safety. “We had limited space in the helicopter, due to which we had to leave all the healthy and youths behind and airlift needy persons.

“The flood situation was so grim that it would wrench anyone’s heart, but for us, it was the duty and we had been trained for this,” he said.

Girish was also involved in rescuing flood victims in Navalgund (Dharwad) and Nargund (Gadag) areas in 2007. Since its inception (2003), the 151 Sarang Helicopter Display team has participated in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief, during Uttarakhand flash floods, Chennai, Dindigul, Tirupathi and Nellore and other disasters.