Forty-year-old Harbinder Singh Ahluwalia had successfully landed on the Mangalore airstrip on May 17. But his second flight in a week to the unfortunate airstrip proved to be fatal.
Ahluwalia was the co-pilot of the Air India airplane that crashed in Mangalore on Saturday morning.
His family in JB Nagar at Andheri (East) is in shock, and did not believe that he was dead until his older brother reached Mangalore and confirmed the news. “They were hopeful that their son was alive. But his brother Virji, who flew down to Mangalore and identified the body,” said one of Ahluwalia’s neighbours who did not wish to be named. “The feeling is yet to sink in. His mother is in a state of shock.”
An able navigator, Ahluwalia quit Jet Airways to join Air India in 2009. He had clocked in more than 3,750 hours of flying.
Born into a family that deals in auto parts, Ahluwalia chose to be a pilot. An alumnus of Holy Family School at Andheri and N.M. College of Commerce and Economics, Vile Parle, Ahluwalia decided to become a pilot after he graduated and had been flying for 15 years.
“Talks of his marriage were on,” said a relative. “Down-to-earth and a perfectionist to the core, he had all the traits of a responsible pilot. He would sleep at the right time and get up well in advance if he was scheduled to fly,” said a friend requesting anonymity.
About 15 days ago when he visited his family, he met his school friend Sukhwinder Singh. “He was a lively person and a very keen sportsman. He always captained the team he played for,” Singh said.
This time when he met Singh, Ahluwalia told him about his newfound passion for creating accounting software. “Soon after his graduation, he had done a software course from a reputed private institution. He told me he would now spend his free time making software for accountancy,” Singh said.
Relatives said whenever Ahluwalia was in Mumbai, he would spend most of his time with his family and at a nearby Gurudwara. Ahluwalia leaves behind his mother, two older brothers and a sister.