Vayu Sena Medal for pilot of crashed Sukhoi-30 MKI

Wing Commander Sohal managed to keep the aircraft away from a populated village to reduce risk of damage to life and property

Wing Commander Gurkirat Singh Sohal, the pilot of a Sukhoi- 30 MKI that crashed near the city on December 13, 2011, has been conferred with the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry), said a release on the website of Ministry of Defence (MoD).

"On December 13, 2011, Wing Commander Sohal was detailed to fly an Airframe and Engine Check sortie in Su-30 MKI aircraft. Just after getting airborne, the aircraft yawed and rolled viciously to the right which was also noticed by the Air Traffic Controller. Wing Commander Sohal immediately initiated recovery action and continued to climb to safer heights. Though the oscillations continued to be violent and dangerous, Sohal overlooked his personal safety in a desperate attempt to try and get the aircraft under control to effect a safe recovery. During the whole process, Sohal managed to keep the aircraft pointing away from a populated village to reduce the risk of damage to life and property in case of an ejection. As the aircraft seemed no longer controllable, ejection was the only option available after a 22-minute ordeal. Sohal initiated ejection, but not before he had ensured that the aircraft was directed away from the village. His presence of mind, when faced with a life threatening situation, helped in preventing loss of many innocent lives on ground," the release said.

The courage displayed by Sohal for the attempted recovery from such an unprecedented emergency was unparalleled. The courageous actions of Sohal to explore all possibilities of recovering the aircraft and to prevent any loss of lives on the ground were most commendable and exemplary, the release added.

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