Group Captain Varun Singh, sole survivor of crash, maintaining vitals

Updated on Dec 09, 2021 11:56 AM IST

The fighter pilot may be moved to the IAF Command Hospital at Bengaluru later on Thursday, officials said. Two doctors from the command hospital are in Wellington to take him to Bengaluru

Group Captain Varun Singh, injured in Wednesday’s military chopper crash, was awarded Shaurya Chakra on this year’s Independence Day for saving his LCA Tejas fighter aircraft during an aerial emergency in 2020. (ANI)
Group Captain Varun Singh, injured in Wednesday’s military chopper crash, was awarded Shaurya Chakra on this year’s Independence Day for saving his LCA Tejas fighter aircraft during an aerial emergency in 2020. (ANI)

Group Captain Varun Singh, the sole survivor of the Mi-17 chopper crash in Coonoor on Wednesday in which 13 people including chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died, is maintaining vital signs at the Military Hospital in Wellington, officials familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The decorated fighter pilot may be moved to the Indian Air Force (IAF) Command Hospital at Bengaluru later on Thursday, the officials added. Two doctors from the command hospital are in Wellington to take Singh to Bengaluru.

Group Captain Varun Singh, the sole survivor of the Mi-17 chopper crash in Coonoor on Wednesday in which 13 people including chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat died, is maintaining vital signs at the Military Hospital in Wellington, officials familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The decorated fighter pilot may be moved to the Indian Air Force (IAF) Command Hospital at Bengaluru later on Thursday, the officials added. Two doctors from the command hospital are in Wellington to take Singh to Bengaluru.

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CDS General Rawat, 63, his wife Madhulika Raje Singh Rawat and 11 others were killed on Wednesday afternoon in the crash in one of the worst air accidents involving India’s top military brass and a setback to the ongoing military reforms in the country, the biggest since Independence.

Rawat was on a visit to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) at Wellington to address the faculty and student officers. The group captain is directing staff at the DSSC.

An inquiry has been ordered into the crash. The chopper was on its way from the Sulur air base to the DSSC when it went down near Coonoor. The CDS, his wife and seven others had flown to Sulur from New Delhi on an Embraer jet of the IAF’s VVIP communication squadron.

President Ram Nath Kovind conferred Shaurya Chakra on Singh on August 15, 2021, for exceptional gallantry. The award is India’s third-highest peacetime gallantry medal. Singh was a wing commander at that time and pilot in a light combat aircraft (LCA) squadron.

On October 12, 2020, he was flying a test sortie in the LCA when an emergency developed due to the failure of cockpit pressurisation at high altitude.

“This was an unprecedented catastrophic failure that had never occurred. There was a rapid loss of altitude while in usual attitude, with the aircraft pitching up and down viciously… Despite being in extreme physical and mental stress in an extreme life-threatening situation, he maintained exemplary composure and regained control of the aircraft, thereby exhibiting exceptional flying skills,” Singh’s citation had said.

“He displayed extraordinary courage and skill to safely land the fighter aircraft. The pilot went beyond the call of duty and landed the aircraft taking calculated risks. This allowed an accurate analysis of the fault on the indigenously designed fighter and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence,” it had added.

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