The Kudla Connection! Captain/Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe who Died in Air India Express Crash on Friday, 7 August in Khozikode, had Stayed in Mangaluru for a Year, few years ago at Nagi Towers, near Kadri East Police Station- and during that one year stay in Mangaluru, he made lots of friends, and his tragic death has shocked many of them.
Mangaluru: Being a good person is not hard, but it doesn’t just happen. As much as anything else, you have to want to be a good person and make choices that correspond with your beliefs. No matter where you are in your life, you can make the choice to change. You have to be honest in relationships; You need to compliment others when deserved; You need to call yours parents regularly; You need to be polite, respect others and mind your manners; Be kind and generous to others; Always think of others and go the extra mile, especially in their needs; Keep smiling and be friendly, and make the best out of every situation; and Be consistent and never take anything for granted- among many other character. And Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe had all these qualities, which made him the MOST LOVED PERSON, by neighbours and friends, in just One Year stay in Mangaluru.
Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe
Wing Commander Deepak V Sathe was a decorated former fighter pilot with the Indian Air Force who flew planes for Air India before he went on to Air India Express flights. An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was described as very experienced in flying Boeing 737 planes. He was from 58th course of the NDA, from the Juliet Squadron. He passed out from Air Force Academy in Hyderabad with a Sword of Honour in June 1981. Everyone remembers him as an excellent squash player. Sathe was very professional and had been awarded the 58 NDA President Gold Medal, and had been a test pilot for the Air Force. Captain Sathe flew Airbus 310s for Air India and was an accomplished fighter pilot before he decided to become a commercial pilot.
Lancelot Saldanha, a real estate entrepreneur in Mangaluru, who was closely associated with Wing Commander Sathe, and his wife, Mrs Sushma (a home-maker) speaking to Team Mangalorean said, “It was a very sad evening for me to know that someone who always valued life and had respect for every person whom he met on his journey of life and of being an experienced Commander with Air India Express was no more with us. I had the privilege of being associated with Wing Commander Deepak Vasanth Sathe when he was stationed In-Charge of Crew for Air India Express at Mangaluru. When in Mangaluru, he approached me for accommodation and I willingly asked him to stay as a tenant at my sister Mrs Ramona Srivatsa’s apartment (Nagi Towers) opp Circuit house/Near Kadri East Police station, which was close by to the Airport”
Wing Commander Deepak Sathe with his wife, Mrs Sushma
“Sathe was always a busy person committed to his work as a true Ex Defence officer rulebook style, and very much attached to his flying.. Whenever he found time, be it in the morning or evening, he never missed out on his walks and was regular at Kadri Park. He would make a call and say Lancelot come over and join me for a walk and a cup of coffee. His smile and warmth helped him make many friends at the Kadri park. His experience in flying was an asset to Air India Express and that is why he was regular in Command for flights landing at Mangaluru and Calicut because of the tricky runways being tabletop. I had the privilege of meeting his wife when she visited Mangaluru during her stay and he toured Chickmagaluru and Jog falls driving my jeep for four days, where they enjoyed the flora and fauna of the region,” added Lancelot..
Saldanha further said, “Wing Commander Sathe was a good trekker and has climbed many peaks even in South Africa. He was always proud of his two brilliant sons, who are both IIT and IIM double graduates, and now in the USA doing extremely well. His older son recently got married in early 2020. I am told by reports that his presence of mind to switch off the Aircraft Engines before crashing helped save the aircraft from catching fire thus saving maximum lives. While I bid farewell to a Friend and thank him for his service to the nation, I pray that God grant his Wife and Children the strength to bear his loss so tragically.. Dear Deepak May your Great soul Rest in Peace…. ‘Until we meet again Goodbye”.
Condolence Message Posted by Capt Sathe’s Close Friend Lancelot Saldanha
Also speaking to Team Mangalorean, Srivasta Rao and his wife Ramona said, “Capt. Deepak Sathe was our tenant for 15 months at 1 B, Nagi Towers, Kadri Hills, Mangaluru. He was too good a gentleman, very friendly, and above all, very Knowledgeable. He loved making friends wherever he went, and whomsoever he came in contact with. His precious smile and friendliness did attract people towards him. Even after leaving the Mangaluru base, he was in touch with us and became a close friend of our family. His favourite spot was Kadri Park for morning and evening walk. He was a fitness freak and was willing to help anyone who came across for help or guidance. A lovely human being. A great loss to the nation. Sadly missed. May His Soul Rest In Peace”.
Mrs Munita Veigas Rao (Wife of Capt Asish R Rao, son of Srivasta and Ramona Rao) in her message said, “Very heartbreaking news about Sir Deepak Sathe. This gentleman was really an inspiration!! So full of life and always positive. Been a good friend to Lancelot Saldanha and our family. I still remember him saying to me, “Your son Zian is your asset and nothing else. Invest in your child’s education and talent!! Nothing else can make you happier than to see him flourish! “. He had so much to speak, so many travel stories to tell, such a motivator always kept inquiring about my health and sent me encouraging messages. I still feel terrible that I missed replying to his last message he sent me a few weeks ago. This wonderful man always kept in touch which was the best thing about him, which most of us normally fail to do. Rest in peace hero!!! Salute you, sir!”
Wing Commander Sathe who frequently went for walks at Kadri Park, made numerous friends, and among them, two wanted to share their testimonies on their beloved friend Sathe. Senior but young Albert Jossie Rego, an NRI from Kuwait remembering Sathe said, “This news is total shocking news that an experienced pilot lost his life unexpectedly. Sathe used to love my oldies by Elvis Presley, Neil Diamond and others, and also a few of my non-veg jokes, which would make him laugh. Few times he invited me to his apartment, where we had social time, and he had also visited my house a couple of times. Even though of his high post, he was simple, polite, showed respect and did mind his manners. It’s not to be a showoff or to seem better; he truly respected individuals and wanted to treat them how they want to be treated. While you don’t physically have to give the shirt off your back, a truly good person is always willing to be generous, and such a man was Sathe. You don’t have to be a bleeding heart, giving away your life fortune; rather, be open and generous to those less fortunate in a time of need- and such was Sathe’s character. Air India Express will surely miss an experienced pilot, while all of us will miss a great and loving friend”.
He was station Commander at Kutch. During the Earthquake, he flew President Abdul Kalam and CM Narendra Modi of Gujarat, and he had saved many lives even during the earthquake.
Srinivas Pai, yet another friend who used to walk and go for breakfast with Sathe said, “Words can express the qualities and characters this gem of a person had. He never showed any anger, always had a smiling face, which brought light on others faces. We used to joke about political and civic issues, thus keeping us happy and cheerful. Often, we used to go together either to Shivabagh Cafe in Kadri, or Brindavan Hotel near his flat, and his favourite item was Upuma (Soji delicacy), and we nicknamed him as “Capt Upuma”. I will be still remembering those we shared together at Kadri Park, even though Sathe left us to his heavenly abode. His memories will still remain in my heart”.
This morning while I was at Nagi Towers, I met a lady worker who is in charge of cleaning/maintenance to get some information, and when I showed her the photo of Capt Sathe, she was shocked and very emotional, where she said “Bari Wolle Jana (Very good person), who always used to treat us equally with no difference, and he never showed his proudness on being a pilot. I have been working here for nearly 15 years, and 15 months or so, that I knew this man, he was a blessing to me, and to other maintenance ladies here. He used to generously give us money every month, to buy goodies for our family. So sad, that death came so fast for a generous and Wolle Jana!”
Yet another Mangalorean Commander (Captain) Michael Saldanha (Son of Placid and Freida Saldanha of Valencia, Mangaluru) who piloted the FIRST Air India Express IX 344 Flight Dubai to Kozhikode with 177 Indians on 7 May 2020, as part of Vande Bharat Mission, and who was joined in the cabin by First Officer Akhilesh Kumar, expressing his grief said that it is sad to note that a young pilot lost his life, also that he was married just last year. ” I have also come in contact with Wing Commander Deepak Sathe many times, and he seemed to be a very nice man and friend, and shared his views and news pertaining to the Airline Industry. My heartfelt condolences to both the pilots, Capt Deepak Sathe and First Officer Akhilesh Kumar who lost their lives serving the nation, in this tragic accident. May their souls Rest In Peace” (Ref:Mangalorean Capt Michael Saldanha Piloting the Air India Express Flight Dubai to Kozhikode with 177 Indians)
Co-Pilot First Officer Akhilesh Kumar
Recalling the tragic plane crash, at least 20 people died, including both the pilots, after an Air India Express plane carrying 191 passengers and crew skidded off the runway and broke apart while attempting to land Friday in Kerala’s Kozhikode. The Boeing Co 737 operating as Flight 1344 from Dubai came to rest in a valley near the hilltop airport in Kozhikode. The plane touched down with a tailwind, according to archived local weather data, which would be counter to the usual practice of landing into the wind for more control. The area has been hit by torrential rains since Thursday, India’s weather office said.
The jetliner operated by Air India Ltd.’s overseas, low-cost unit overshot the runway at 7:41 p.m. local time, said India’s aviation ministry. According to playback on flight-tracking website Flight Radar 24, the plane tried to land in the opposite direction before circling the airport in the southern state of Kerala and making a second attempt. The so-called tabletop airport is located on a hill with limited space at the end of the runway, and several international airlines had stopped flying bigger aircraft including Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 jets into Kozhikode due to safety issues.
The last fatal plane crash in India was in 2010 when an Air India Express Boeing plane overshot the runway at Mangaluru– also a tabletop — and burst into flames, killing 158 people. That was the first fatal crash of a passenger aircraft in India in a decade. Such accidents have mostly occurred as a result of actions by pilots, such as touching down too far along a runway, approaching at higher speeds or failing to properly slow a plane, according to accident reports. Weather can sometimes play a role, such as when runways are wet and braking is less effective. However, standard flight procedures are designed to take weather into account, so landings are only permitted when conditions are safe.
Most passengers were workers returning home after losing their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic, while others were visitors who were stranded. India has banned scheduled international commercial service because of COVID-19 and only allowed repatriation flights with special permission from regulators. Rescue operations have been completed and survivors taken to the hospital for treatment. No fire was reported at the time of landing. Two relief flights will operate from New Delhi and Mumbai for victims and their family members.