When help dropped from the skies

Air Marshal B. Suresh’s primary concern as he air-dropped relief supplies over flood-hit Chenganoor on Sunday was to ensure that he did not accidentally injure citizens marooned on roofs. The Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, had made a mid-day sortie into the swamped locality on board an MI-17 B, medium-lift helicopter from the IAF’s station at Shangumugham here. “People isolated by the floodwaters stood close to each other on roof-tops. My heart skipped when a packet dropped from the air just missed a senior citizen. We had reduced the weight of supply packets and wrapped them in flexible synthetic covers to cushion the landing,” he told The Hindu shortly after completing the two-hour mission. Describing the operations so far, Air Marshal Suresh said the machines had made risky and impromptu touchdowns on uncharted landing zones when bringing in marooned persons to safety. The pilots risked flying below the minimum operational altitude and without flight plans to hoist up people from densely packed urban localities. All through, ground crews worked non-stop to keep the choppers air-worthy. The Air Marshal said with Kochi and Kozhikode airports hobbled by the floods, Thiruvananthapuram operated as a transit air base for the forward supply of men and material.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/when-help-dropped-from-the-skies/article24733468.ece

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