Saturday, September 07, 2019

Air India's midair Chandrayaan announcement has to wait for another time

New Delhi: Captain Amit Singh (name changed on request) is among the dozens of Air India pilots who were operating an international flight early Saturday morning (India time) when Chandrayaan-2 was expected to land on the moon. Singh was particularly looking forward to this flight as he, like all other colleagues who would have been in air at that time, received a written message from Air India chairman Ashwani Lohani on Friday to make an inflight announcement, after getting a nod from operations.

The 'aakaashvaani' to be made on all domestic and international flights of AI airborne at that time read: “Jai Hind. This is your captain speaking. Congratulations on a historic achievement by Motherland India. India conquers the moon. Vikram, the lander of Indian rocket Chandrayaan, has just landed on the moon. India is now the fourth nation on the planet to achieve this tremendous feat. A moment of immense pride for every Indian. Jai Hind.”

However, the nod to make that announcement did not come from operations as Chandrayaan-2 lost contact when it was 2.1 km from the lunar surface. Singh has kept the message with him and is now looking forward to making such announcements soon — like millions of fellow Indians and Air Indians — when the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) sends missions — both manned and unmanned — to the moon and beyond.

“We are very proud of our scientists at ISRO. Chandrayaan-2 reached within 2.1 km of the lunar surface. Is that a small achievement and how many countries have indigenously managed to do that! It is just a matter of time before our tricolour reaches the moon and beyond. I will keep this message with me and am certain to make that inflight announcement very soon. I really hope to be airborne when that happens. And the next time and further on,” Captain Singh said.

This is the sentiment in the airline and is evident in chairman Lohani’s social media messages. On Friday night, he said in a Facebook post: “Namaskar Chandamama. Here we come. Tonight India would become the fourth nation to land a lander from the Chandrayaan on to the surface of the moon. It is indeed a matter of extreme pride and honour for all of us that our Motherland India is leapfrogging into a very exclusive league with this tremendous achievement. Extremely proud to be an Indian. Jai hind.”
07/09/19 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India
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