Tributes to Pilot Dhillon who was regarded as one of IAF’s best helicopter pilots!

The Indian Air Force suffered a major loss in the form of the passing away of Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon last week. He attained martyrdom in a helicopter crash in Arunachal Pradesh while rescuing people after a landslide.

Wing Commander Dhillon and his co-pilot Flight Lieutenant PK Singh were tasked with rescuing stranded civilians in the landslide-hit village of Sagalee in Arunachal Pradesh’s Papum Pare district.

Along with a flight engineer and a policeman from Arunachal Pradesh, Wing Commander Dhillon and Flight Lieutenant Singh flew to Sagalee in the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv. In five sorties and amidst inclement weather, they rescued 160 people from Sagalee to Naharlagun.

But on the sixth sortie to Sagalee village, the weather turned so bad that they decided not to risk civilian lives and did not take people on board. Within minutes after taking off from the village, the ground station lost contact with them. All three crew members of the helicopter and the Arunachal Police official died in the crash.

Wing Commander Dhillon was an alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College Dehradun and the National Defence Academy. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.

His friends say that he was one of thebest helicopter pilots of the Indian Air Force. “Wing Commander Dhillon has 18 years of experience. He has flown in many difficult terrains and has been part of challenging missions. He was arguably one of the finest helicopter pilots. From icy mountains to the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, he volunteered to go on any mission,” said a senior IAF officer.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu expressed shock over the crash. He said, “The brave personnel were on a mission to rescue people stranded due to floods by airlifting them to safer locations. Hundreds of people rescued by the IAF couldn’t even thank enough when this tragedy struck like a bolt from nowhere. They are shattered by the news and mourn the death of their saviours.”

What hurts as much as the passing away of this great son of the soil, is the stark silence in the media over his martyrdom. His achievements are more than any sportsperson or actor, but he didn’t even get 1% of the recognition they get.

Our apathy towards our soldiers is truly disgusting. For most Indians, patriotism has become restricted to waving the tricolour in an India-Pakistan match.

It is a humble request from the Postcard Team to people to share this article as much as possible in a small step to recognizing our real heroes!

Vinayak Jain