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Pilot killed in Kerala plane crash was a decorated ex-Air Force pilot; co-pilot just got married last year

Wing Commander Deepak Vasant Sathe, one of the two pilots of the ill-fated Air India Express plane en route from Dubai to Kerala had an illustrious career, reported the website Defence Aviation Post.

Sathe was a decorated Indian Air Force pilot having had numerous awards. He was described as very experienced in flying Boeing 737 planes.

He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force in 1981 after winning the President’s Gold Medal in the 58 NDA President Gold Medal, according reports. He also completed his first training in the 127th Course of the Indian Air Force with the Sword of Honor.

Meanwhile, his co pilot Captain Akhilesh Kumar had just been married last year.

The ill-fated flight was part of the Vande Bharat programme that has been fetching Indians from abroad amid the coronavirus pandemic.

As of this posting, the death toll has climbed to 17 and more than 120 sustained minor to serious injuries.

The Air India Express flight IX 1344 that overshot the runway of the Kozhikode International Airport (Calicut) amid heavy rainfall.

The plane departed Dubai at 2:14 p.m., Friday, according to the website Local authorities said the aircraft was carrying 191 passengers and crew.

Flightradar24 shows the plane appears to have attempted to land twice at the airport. Survivors told local news that the aircraft went up and down many times before landing and the disaster occurred after the plane had clearly touched the runway.

Mark Nituma

Mark is the editorial director of TFT and is currently based in its Manila headquarters. Upon graduating from UP Diliman in 2010, he joined the internationally-awarded TV magazine show Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho as a researcher. Nearly a year later, he became one of its segment producers. In a span of five years with GMA7, he was able to travel not only the Philippines’ most beautiful spots but also the country’s least visited places—from some of the war-torn areas of Mindanao to impoverished parts of Luzon and Visayas—capturing a closer look at life in these communities. Mark also worked with various TV programs and specials such as Philippine Treasure and Reel Time. After his five-year stint in the media network, he flew to Dubai in 2016 to start his career as a journalist/reporter for The Filipino Times. Got story pitches? Send Mark an email at [email protected] or drop him a line on

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