IAF Officer Achieves Rare Feat of 1,000 Landings at Leh, Thoise
- An IL-76 pilot has achieved the distinction of having completed 1,000 incident-free landings of the Russian-origin heavy lift aircraft at Leh and Thoise.
- Group Captain Sandeep Singh Chhabra achieved the feat on April 30. Commissioned into the transport stream of Indian Air Force on June 13, 1992, Gp Capt Chhabra initially flew the AN-32 in the narrow valleys and advanced landing grounds of the North-East and Uttarakhand hills, primarily in paradrop and landing roles.
- He went on to fly IL-78 Mid Air Refuellers later and is currently posted to an IL-78 squadron, according to an IAF statement.
- IAF’s IL-76 aircraft are all operated by No.44 Squadron, which is based at the Chandigarh Air Force Station. Capable of airlifting up to 45 tonnes of payload, these aircraft have played an instrumental role in ferrying men and equipment, including tanks, artillery gungs and construction equipment to the northern sector. They have also airlifted large quantities of relief material during disaster management in cases of natural calamities, and have undertaken overseas missions.
- During his tenure, Gp Capt Chabbra has flown extensively in support of the Army in the Northern Sector, primarily to Leh and Thoise airfields. These airfields are located at elevations above 10,000 feet, surrounded by treacherous terrain and are considered to be amongst the most challenging airfields for IL-76 class of aircraft in the world. He is amongst a handful of pilots who are cleared for operations to both these airfields by night, which by any standard is the most challenging role for IL-76 class of aircraft.
- The officer, who’s from Dehradun, is an alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun and the National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla. He has over 8,500 hours of service flying experience, of which 5,000 hours are on IL-76/78 aircraft.
Source- Tribune India