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HindustanTimes Wed,26 Nov 2014

Uttarakhand: two IAF pilot couples carry out rescue missions

Hindustan Times  Gauchar, Uttarakhand, June 25, 2013
First Published: 19:23 IST(25/6/2013) | Last Updated: 19:30 IST(25/6/2013)

These two IAF couples' penchant for flying makes them special as they are currently flying Mi-17 and Cheetah choppers, negotiating the treacherous terrain and fickle weather to rescue the stranded in rain- ravaged Uttarakhand.

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Together, they have have flown more than 100 hours to rescue stranded men, women and children amidst the tragedy unfolding in the rain-hit and flash flood devastated areas.

While the husbands fly the heavy lift Mi-17 choppers, the wives pilot the 'Cheetahs'. The ongoing large-scale operations in the state are the first time they are operating together for a similar task.

Married four years back, Squadron Leaders SK Pradhan and Khushboo Gupta begin their day from the helipad in Gauchar and get time to meet only late in the evening.

"Well the only thing probably that makes us special is that we have the most important vow to keep with the IAF. We never thought we would be together on this mission," Pradhan told PTI when he was talking to his wife, who was readying for a sortie to Rudraprayag.

The other couple, married last year, Squadron Leader Vikram Thiagaraman and Flight Lieutenant Tanya Srinivas said they are both wedded to the bliss of taking to the air.

"Oh that is so nice when I found I was also coming for the operation. But we have been trained to keep work and personal life apart. That keeps us taking to the skies comfortably," Srinivas, who met her husband in the Air Force, said.

Every time her husband takes to the air, and she is not engaged in an operational briefing, Srinivas makes sure she gives him a 'thumbs up'.

While Pradhan is "comfortable and confident" even when his wife flies through dangerous terrains, Thiagaraman said he just wishes his better half good luck as he knows she is a top notch pilot.

Both the couples, who are common friends, also share notes as they are flying in the same area for rescue and relief operations under the IAF.

Though the couples have different choices when it comes to their hobbies, one thing is very clear in their minds - their eighth vow of marriage of flying safe, secure and with glory.


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