Wing Commander Dhillon along with his co-pilot Flight Lieutenant PK Singh had taken off on a Rescue Mission to extract those stranded in the landslide-hit Sagalee village. This village is located in Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh. The State government requested the IAF to help rescue the hapless trapped people.
The two pilots along with a flight engineer as a crew and a policeman from Arunachal Pradesh flew to Sagalee in their Dhruv helicopter. Despite a very bad weather, unsuitable for safe flying, the helicopter rescued 160 people in just five sorties from Sagalee to Naharlagun. Thus the Pilot displayed solid professionalism by each time lifting nearly double the number of people than the seats. However on the sixth sortie from Sagalee village, the weather worsened so much that the Pilots decided not to risk any civilians’ lives. They did not take any people on board and took off empty for the return journey. Within minutes after taking off from the village, the ground station lost contact with them. All the three crew members of the IAF helicopter and the Arunachal Police official died in the crash.
Wing Commander Mandeep Singh Dhillon, who died in the helicopter crash in Arunacha during a rescue operation, was an avid long-distance runner. His friends said he was among the best helicopter pilots of the Indian Air Force or IAF. Now, there is absolute gloom at the 115th Helicopter Unit at the IAF’s airbase in Tezpur, Assam. He had 18 years of experience and had flown in many difficult terrains and has been part of many challenging missions. He was arguably one of the finest helicopter pilots. From icy mountains to the jungles of Arunachal Pradesh, he always volunteered to go on any mission. An alumnus of the Rashtriya Indian Military College in Dehradun and the National Defence Academy or NDA, Wing Commander Dhillon had also worked as an instructor at the NDA. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son.
Wing Commander’s last rites were performed in Tezpur today. Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu expressed shock over the crash. “The brave personnel were on a mission to rescue people stranded due to floods by airlifting them to safer locations. Hundreds of people rescued by the IAF couldn’t even thank enough when this tragedy struck like a bolt from nowhere. They are shattered by the news and mourn the death of their saviours,” Mr Khandu said.