On Board AN-32, April 26
Three Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft tasked to supply stretchers and other medical aid for earthquake victims at Nepal returned after encountering bad weather, or in technical terms a “line squall.” At least three IAF aircraft — an AN-32, a C-17 and an IL-76 — returned after reaching a few nautical miles away from Kathmandu airport.
“Apart from the bad weather, lack of parking space at Kathmandu airport also compounded the aircraft’s return. The tramac is choc-a-bloc with several civil and other aircraft’s being parked there,” said IAF pilot Rajesh, who was flying the Antonov AN-32. The 30-year-old aircraft was carrying relief material for the earthquake victims in Nepal.
After Nepal experienced fresh tremors on Sunday, the air traffic control (ATC) room was shut down for operations and no flight could either take off or land between 2-4 pm. When the ATC became functional around 4 pm, IAF aircraft began their sorties but none could land.
“We were 10-15 nautical miles from touching down Kathmandu airport, but we hit a line squall. We took a decision to be safe than sorry,” said Rajesh. An old hand at rescue and relief work, Rajesh also undertook part in similar operations during the Jammu and Kashmir floods last year. A line squall is a line of thunderstorms that can form along or ahead of a cold front.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft, which also took off simultaneously along the AN-32 also returned to Delhi. The C-17 was carrying a team of NDRF personnel and was carrying essential civil supplies.
A fourth aircraft, which had two teams of NDRF and also its dog squad, however, was the only aircraft that could land in Kathmandu Sunday afternoon.
A senior IAF official said they would resume the relief operations on Monday.