Foreign National Casualty Evacuation:114 HU,AF
1. In a daring rescue mission, pilots of Leh based 114 Helicopter Unit evacuated two foreign nationals, Kristina Chnapekova (Slovakian) and Valasske Mezrici (Czech) from higher reaches of Padam valley in Zanskar ranges of Ladakh region on 22 Aug 2011.
2. A nine member trekking expedition comprising of Czech & Slovakian nationals was in Shinkun La area, approx 60 Km SE of ‘Padam’ in Ladakh region of J&K, when some members developed high altitude related sickness. One member of the team succumbed to the high altitude sickness and two others were in critical condition when the team requested for an immediate air rescue through their embassy.
3. HQ Western Air Command of IAF immediately swung into action and tasked Leh based 114 HU for the rescue mission. 114 HU (nicknamed ‘Siachen Pioneers’) obtained necessary details required for planning the mission and a two helicopter rescue team led by Wg Cdr A S Rajput planned the rescue mission including route, fuel planning, power calculations & flight safety aspects despite very limited available time.
4. The crew including Sqn Ldr S Agrawal, Flt Lt A Bharmoria and Flt Lt Dipin Chakravorty’s accurate assessment of the situation became the basis of the planning of the cas evac mission from Shinkun La. This mission involved landing at very limited space on a mountain side at a density altitude of more than 17000 ft. The mission was critical in terms of restricted landing site, negligible reserve of power, limited availability of day light hours, valley clearance and unprepared landing site. The “Siachen Pioneers” crew displayed highest level of professionalism, planning and courage without fearing for their own safety, resulting into the successful completion of the mission. The two helicopter formation landed back well beyond the sunset time almost in darkness. Air Cmde S P Wagle VM, Air Officer Commanding AFS Leh, personally supervised and coordinated the entire mission.
5. Once again Air Force Station Leh and 114 HU have lived up to their motto “WE DO THE DIFFICULT AS A ROUTINE, THE IMPOSSIBLE (MAY) TAKE A BIT LONGER”. They further enhanced the image of IAF and its helicopter fleet in the eyes of the world by saving the lives of a Czech and a Slovakian national in spite of the extremely challenging landing on the mountain side and dangerously deteriorating light conditions.