No fear of flying for this Kargil hero-India-The Times of India
No fear of flying for this Kargil hero
16 Aug 2006, 0938 hrs IST,IANS
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SRINAGAR: When Flight Lieutenant K Nachiketa was shot down during the 1999 Kargil operations and taken prisoner by the Pakistani Army before being dramatically released, many thought his flying days were over due to a spinal injury he sustained while ejecting from his MiG-27 fighter. But, he has proved the sceptics wrong.

Today a squadron leader flying AN-32 transport aircraft, Nachiketa has been approved for promotion to wing commander and could rise even higher, his peers in the Indian Air Force (IAF) say.

"I would even say that depending on the circumstances, he could even make (IAF) chief," Air Marshal A K Singh, air officer commanding-in-chief Western Air Command, maintained, not exactly in jest.

Nachiketa, however, wouldn't speculate on this, only saying: "The IAF is my home; I will definitely stay in the air force."

Nachiketa is one of the very few IAF pilots to have returned after their aircraft crashed in enemy territory. He was shot down May 28, 1999, and held in captivity before being released a week later on June 4.

He was later diagnosed with a back problem - a compression fracture - meaning he could never fly fighters again.

However, after a series of remedial measures and retraining, he has been flying AN-24s since 2004 and is currently posted with the Chandigarh-based 48 Squadron.

Did he miss flying fighters?

"Definitely. But, then, even this flying is very good. In fact, all flying is very good and very challenging - be it fighters, helicopters, or transports," Nachiketa said.

"I think I've reconciled (myself to not flying fighters) because, from a broader perspective, I think life has got much more than fighters," he added.

Detailing the dramatic events of the day he crashed, he said: "I had a technical problem with the engine; my engine shut and I had to re-ignite. But you have to be flying at a certain height before you can do so.

“In my case, since I was flying over a terrain of five plus km, I did not have the adequate height. As a result, I had to eject.

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