Group Captain Varun Singh, lone survivor of helicopter crash, succumbs to his injuries

Published : December 15, 2021 20:30 IST

Group Captain Varun Singh. Photo: By Special Arrangement

Group Captain Varun Singh, experimental test pilot and lone survivor of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Mi-17 V5 helicopter that crashed near Wellington in the Nilgiris, passed away at the Command Hospital Air Force in Bengaluru on December 15.

The decorated pilot was posted at Sulur Air Force Station and was travelling aboard the ill-fated helicopter as General Bipin Rawat’s liaison officer. He was admitted to the Command Hospital with severe burn injuries.

CDS General Bipin Rawat was en route to the Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) in Wellington where he was scheduled to deliver a lecture when the Mi-17 V5 went down and burst into flames. While 13 of the 14 people onboard succumbed to their injuries on the day of the crash (December 8), Group Captain Varun Singh, who was initially treated at Wellington’s Military Hospital, was transferred to Command Hospital on December 9.

Group Captain Varun Singh was conferred the Shaurya Chakra, the country’s third-highest gallantry medal, on Independence Day for the presence of mind and adroitness he had exhibited while surviving a life-threatening emergency when flying the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft during a test flight in October 2020. A Wing Commander then with the Tejas fighter squadron based at Sulur AFS, he was on a test sortie of the newly inducted fighter aircraft and attempting to sort out some minor glitches in the aircraft’s “flight control system and pressurisation system” when a technical snag resulted in the aircraft pressurisation system’s failure at high altitude.

But he managed to identify the problem and instead of abandoning the aircraft and ejecting, stabilised the aircraft, initiated descent to a lower altitude for landing and landed safely. The test pilot’s action, according to the Shaurya Chakra citation, “allowed an accurate analysis of the fault on the indigenously designed fighter and further institution of preventive measures against recurrence”.

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor