The Cessna 171 that crashed on April 6 with 19-year-old trainee pilot Rituraj Singh trapped inside the machine could have been anywhere under water in the 1,072-km-long Bargi dam near Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh.
Rituraj’s father, Ashok Singh (50), who is a police officer in Jharkhand, was desperate to get back his son’s body even after nearly two months of the accident. He tried all options available to find the missing craft.
But despite repeated attempts, the rescue and recovery teams of both the army and the navy failed.
Finally, when the family was about to call off the search and build a memorial for Rituraj at a village near the spot where the craft was last seen, local fishermen were roped in.
Armed with traditional metal pipes, they got down to business. They first lowered the pipes at various locations around the possible crash site.
Finally, at one spot, they felt a clink. An anchor was dropped at that spot and it got stuck.
The aircraft had finally been found.
“When the anchor came out of the water, it had the green paint of the aircraft
on it,” said Rituraj’s uncle Satish Singh.
The family then contacted a rescue and diving services company based in Visakhapatnam. With the aircraft located, the company started the work of hauling it up.
After three days, on Friday, it was pulled out slowly with helium gas-filled balloons tied to the fuselage of the aircraft and floating drums.
The pilot’s body was also recovered from the wreck.