A Kiran crash….a war hero remembered

Posted: March 4, 2010 in Uncategorized
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When I heard about the crash of the Kiran aircraft at a Naval show in Hyderabad yesterday, I remembered an incident that occurred just after the Indo-Pak war in 1971. I met a man, who for a lot of us kids was our first war hero. Only we didn’t know how big a hero. That sunk in only over three decades later!

Flt. Lt. Deepak Yadav, probably, never even noticed us, because we were at the age where one is usually thought of as a brat and he had just returned home from the war in 1971 where he did the country proud. The sense of reflected glory came only because he was married to a schoolmate’s elder sister! The friend’s name was Chetan Dave and we stayed in the same colony, and studied in the same school, though he was s senior of mine. At that time, we did not really understand the importance of what Yadav (who was promoted to Squadron Leader later), had done.

We used to stay at the Hindustan Antibiotics colony in Pimpri. So when Flt. Lt. Yadav, came back from the 1971 Indo-Pak war the Gujaratis in the colony felicitated him, because he had married one of their own! At the function organized on a friend’s terrace we heard him describing how he had taken to the skies in a battle to support the Indian Army on the ground. He told everyone about how he had destroyed tanks of the Pakistani Army. He also spoke about how his plane had been hit during a sortie but he had managed to fly the plane back safely. The name Longewala was then just a name to all of us and forgotten soon after that evening.

Five years later, I heard that Yadav, now a Sqn. Ldr. had lost his life while test flying a Kiran aircraft in Bangalore. The friend who gave me this news also told about how Yadav had survived a crash during an earlier test flight. His wife Jayshree was sitting with friends who had come to break the news of his death when he walked in much to the relief and delight of his family and friends.

The second time too everyone hoped for such a miracle, but this time the aircraft nosedived to earth and they could only retrieve his watch strap. I don’t know how much of the last bit is factual, but this was told to me by someone who was close to the family, so I am assuming it’s true.

Even after J.P. Dutta made the name Longewala famous in the film Border, there was no connection to Yadav. It was only years later when I read on the Internet, about the pilots who flew sorties at Longewala, that I came across the name Flt. Lt. Deepak Yadav. Only then did the name strike a bell. After i read about it, I sat back, stunned. The guy was a real WAR HERO!! My respect for him went up ten-fold along with the thrill of having seeing him in the flesh, even if he had not noticed us!

Here’s something on Yadav that I discovered on the Internet that should prove I am not just telling a tall tale: “On 28 Sep 76, Sqn Ldr Deepak Yadav along with Flt Lt Ramesh Chandra Ghidiyal, were test flying a Kiran trainer to examine a specific problem area which he himself had discovered. During the course of the Air test, the aircraft suffered structural failure and crashed killing both the pilots. Sqn Ldr Deepak Yadav, who had earlier in the 71 War had flown over 20 sorties, lost his life to the cause of test flying.”

  1. Pradeep Menon says:

    I’ve always had so much respect for the Armed Forces. My father used to live in NDA long, long ago, and he still has old contacts there. I remember how thrilled I used to get at the prospect of a visit to NDA. I’ve also seen some sort of flight show there, though my recollection of it is sketchy at best. During my engineering days, I seriously thought of trying out for the Indian Army as an Engineer. I was ineligible because the power of my left eye was too high! Some day i’ll perhaps do the next best thing – make a war movie!

    This post also reminded me of my kindergarten days. I studied in Hindustan Antibiotics School, Pimpri!

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