‘We’re Proud Our Son Who Saved Many Lives before Sacrificing Himself. We have lost our sons. I served the armed forces, both my sons followed. Captain Vikas Sathe, a lieutenant in Indian Army, lost his life while serving in Jammu & Kashmir in a road accident, while Capt Deepak Sathe lost his life recently in the plane crash in Kozhikode”- Retd Col Vasant Sathe, father of Capt Deepak
“He was a great son and always the first one to help others in need. His teachers still appreciate him”- Mrs Neela Sathe, mother of Capt Deepak
Mangaluru: Wing Commander Capt Deepak Vasant Sathe’s parents are proud that their son saved most of the passengers’ lives before laying down his own life said Capt Sathe’s parents – Col (Retd) Vasant Sathe and Neela, who stay in Nagpur, the winter capital of Maharashtra. Parents of Captain Deepak Sathe, the former Indian Air Force (IAF) test pilot who was the commander of the ill-fated Dubai-Kozhikode Air India Express flight, on Saturday remembered him as a ‘great son’. “Today is the birthday of Capt Sathe’s mother. He had last met his parents in March and was constantly in touch with them over the phone since then. They had last spoken a day before yesterday. Deepak had told some of the relatives that if flights are available, he would pay a surprise visit to his mother on her birthday,” said his nephew Dr Yashodhan Sathe to the media. However, even before his mother could celebrate her 84th birthday, Capt Sathe, 58, died in the air crash.
Sources reveal that Capt Deepak’s mother, Neela Sathe, who lives with her husband Vasant Sathe, a retired colonel, in Bharat Nagar locality in Nagpur, said that after the coronavirus outbreak, he had told her not to step out of the house. “He used to tell me not to go out due to the pandemic. He would tell me that if something happens to me, he would feel bad. And suddenly this tragedy struck…what can we do before the will of God…,” she said with tears in her eyes while speaking to the media. She remembered him as being ‘top’ in everything- be it studies or sports.
THE SATHE FAMILY
“He was brilliant at table tennis, squash. He was also very good at horse riding. Our Son had also received the rare ‘Sword of Honour’. However, he would not boast about his achievements,” she said, adding that he was the first Maharashtrian to get all the eight prizes of Air Force. “He was very helpful and would do anything for others. During the Gujarat floods, he had saved the children of servicemen by carrying them on his shoulders. He was a very bright officer,” she said.
Deepak Sathe’s Parents L-R: Mrs Neela Sathe and Retd Col Vasant Sathe
Nilesh Sathe, a cousin of Deepak Sathe, wrote an emotional post on social media saying Captain Deepak had called him a week ago. He sounded jovial as always then. “When I asked him about the ‘Vande Bharat’ Mission, he was proud of bringing back our countrymen from Arab countries. I asked him, “Deepak, do you fly an empty aircraft since these countries are not allowing entry of passengers?” He had replied, “Oh, No! We carry fruits, vegetables, medicines etc. to these countries and the aircraft never flies empty.” Nilesh also recounted a past air crash in the early nineties that Deepak Sathe survived when he was in the Air Force.
“Deepak was hospitalised for six months with multiple skull injuries and nobody thought he would fly again. But his strong willpower and love for flying made him clear the test again. It was a miracle,” said Nilesh.
Deepak Sathe’s aunt Meena Sathe recalling the 1990 air crash involving Captain Deepak said he had the determination to fight and come out of any crisis. She said that they used to talk a lot over the phone and through social media. “Deepak was very curious to know about various developments in the pharmaceutical sector because I worked there. He had also shared some of his landing experiences in low-visibility situations,” Meena Sathe said.
Capt Deepak Sathe seen with his wife, Sushama Namjoshi
The mortal remains of commander pilot, Captain Deepak Sathe reached Mumbai on Sunday afternoon in a cargo flight. Sathe’s family members have also arrived in Mumbai. It is learnt that the body was taken from the cargo terminal to Air India GSD Triangular plot building at around 3.10 pm. Captain Sathe’s remains were flown to Mumbai from Cochin International Airport in Kerala. It is learnt that the funeral will be on 11 August. Capt Deepak, a former IAF pilot, had 10,000 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737 aircraft. He had flown 6,662 of these hours as the commander.
Mortal Remains of Capt Deepak was brought to Mumbai from Cochin on Sunday afternoon
Captain Sathe’s co-pilot and first officer Captain Akhilesh Kumar was cremated earlier today in his home town of Mathura in the presence of his family and officials of Air India and Air India Express, who paid their respect to the departed soul. The last rites were performed at the Moksha Dham cremation centre and the pyre was lit by the pilot’s younger brother Rahul as his family was inconsolable. The father of the deceased pilot, Tulsi Ram Sharma, sought a government job for Akhilesh’s wife Megha, who is expecting a child shortly. Akhilesh deserves the status of a shaheed as he sacrificed his life to save people on the plane, he said. Sources reveal that both the pilots operating the Air India Express flight that fell 35 ft into a valley after overshooting the runway in wet and rainy conditions at Karipur Airport in Kerala on Friday evening killing 18 people on board, were very experienced.
Body of Co-Pilot First Officer Capt Akhilesh Kumar was cremated today in Mathura
Recalling the plane crash, the Air India Express flight from Dubai with 190 onboard overshot the tabletop runway in Kozhikode airport in Kerala on Friday night while landing in heavy rains and fell into a valley 35 feet below and broke into two portions. Captain Sathe, who was the pilot-in-command and his co-pilot Akhilesh Kumar were among those who died in the incident. Sathe was a former Wing Commander of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and had served at the force’s flight testing establishment. He was from 58th course of National Defence Academy (NDA), Pune. 18 people, including the two pilots, lost their lives in the incident.
Notably, Captain Sathe has been hailed by experts and survivors for his handling of the situation. It has been noted that the number of casualties- 18 thus far-could have been much more had the aircraft caught fire. However, according to reports, Captain Sathe switched off the engines to ensure that the plane didn’t catch fire upon landing, in the process, saving hundreds of lives. However, along with his co-pilot, Captain Sathe is among those who didn’t survive the crash. The plane, operating under the ‘Vande Bharat’ mission, skidded off the tabletop runway at the Kozhikode Airport and plunged into a gorge after failing to land twice, amid heavy rains. There were 191 people on board the doomed flight, including the two pilots and four cabin crew. This is India’s worst aviation disaster in a decade after 2010’s Mangaluru air crash, which took place under near-identical circumstances.
Captain Sathe has two sons- Dhananjay and Shantanu. Dhananjay lives in Bengaluru. His second son is in the USA and he won’t be able to come. Following an article Yours Truly had published in Mangalorean.com (Ref: The Kudla Connection! Capt Deepak Sathe Who Died in AI Express Crash had Stayed in Mluru for a Year ), a large number of our readers had expressed their sympathies and thoughts, hailing Capt Deepak as a Great Friend, a Humanitarian, a Great Human Being, and a Perfect Gentleman. I end this column with a message received from Raghavendra Shetty after he had read the above article, where he said-
“I have no words to express my feelings, I can only pray that His soul rest in peace and May God give strength to his family and friends and all the neighbours of such a great human being to recover from the heartbreaking situation. In my life also I believe humanity is over all and everything, also this is the first-ever such a detailed and most touching with very simple and understandable report I ever read in any English news. Thanks for sharing it and I will admire his greatest personality in my life. It is a great loss for our society and country. Nowadays rarely we see such kind of person with a great personality, and always I think of to find such kind and humble human beings and make them viral when they are alive to inspire many people, for the sake of our loving society and country, Because many times we make reports of greatest personalities only after they have passed away. It would be nice if reports are made of great personalities when they are alive, we might have a chance to meet them and learn from them for our personality development. Thanks for your report and May his Soul Rest in peace and Big salute to Mangalorean.com”.