Dubai-Kerala plane crash: Air India Express plane skids off runway in India
The ill-fated Air India Express plane at Kozhikode on Friday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: On Friday, August 7, an Air India Express flight carrying stranded Indians from the UAE to their home country plunged nose-first into a valley upon landing in Kozhikode, in the Indian state of Kerala.

The first death confirmed was that of the flight’s captain, Deepak Sathe, an Indian Air Force retiree and senior wing commander who hailed from the state of Maharashtra.

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And according to Pramod Mahajan, principal, Sharjah Indian School, Sathe was a man of honour who lived up to his ideals till the end. “I was in a state of shock on Friday when I heard the news of the crash. Besides the fact that three of our school children were on the flight with their mothers, which was a major concern for us, I also had the honour of knowing Sathe,” he said.

Mahajan recalled his friendship with Sathe back in 2008-2009 when he lived in Mumbai’s Powai Garden. “We used to go for morning walks and would exchange notes on the education sector as I was in that field and the aviation sector as well as he was in that field,” said Mahajan who was then working as head of Chandrabhan Sharma Junior Memorial College in Powai.

‘Thinking out of the box’

“I used to talk about the evolution of the education sector in India and educators had to think different, out of the box, and thereby take some risk along. For this, Sathe replied saying that every second of our lives is a risk. He told me that just he and I talking right there in Powai was a risky situation as anything could happen.”

Mahajan recalled Sathe being a very positive and honourable man. “In one of the conversations, he said: ‘When am flying, my priority is the lives of the passengers. Everytime I fly, there is that uncertainty, but at the end of the journey, we pull through it all so well’.”

Pramod Mahajan

And true to his words, though Sathe lost his life in the crash on Friday, he did manage to save the lives of many on board.

“When I heard the news, I felt sad and could not help remembering his words. He kept up to his word. He was an honourable man.”

Who was D.V. Sathe?

Sathe had more than 30 years of flying experience, he reportedly graduated from the 58th course of the National Defence Academy.

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Sathe reportedly went on to graduate with a ‘Sword of Honour’ from the Air Force Academy. The late pilot was commissioned with the Indian Air Force in 1981 and retired in 2003 as an ace test pilot, Indian outlets reported. With Air India, he reportedly flew the Airbus A310, before taking to Boeing 737 commercial flights for Air India Express.