Saturday, May 09, 2020

Proud Mangalurean pilots involved in Vande Bharat, corona missions

Mangaluru: Vande Bharat Mission, one of the major evacuation operations through air and sea routes to bring back Indians stranded in other countries back to their homeland, is under way. Two Mangalurean pilots, one involved with this operation to bring back stranded Indians, and the other, who piloted aircraft that brought medical supplies, deserve special mention.

Air India flight's captain, flight commander Michael Saldanha from Mangaluru was the pilot of the Air India's second flight that left Dubai at 5.30 pm on Thursday and reached Kozhikode at 10.30 pm. Saldanha said that he noted that many Indians who were stuck in foreign countries were facing lot of problems and he desired to see them back in the country.

"Because of this burning desire, I volunteered to participate in the airlift operation. By the time I safely brought 177 persons and landed at the Kozhikode airport, I was totally immersed in a feeling of patriotism. I am always ready and willing for such operations even in future," he disclosed. Michael said that he left for Kozhikode from Mangaluru on May 6 afternoon and left for Dubai with an empty sanitized aircraft to Dubai, where he says, he saw tricolour fluttering everywhere. "People were very eager to return to India. We had five small children, eight pregnant women and nine wheel chair passengers among our 177 passengers. The happiness I felt when I landed back in the country with these people is beyond words. A sense of fulfilment enveloped me," he explained.
Michael was a first rank holder in mechanical engineering and joined Air India after that. He is skilled and now works as base manager to train pilots at Mangaluru. Thirty pilots function under him. His grandfather Col J W Soraes, had fought during the second world war and 1962 war against China.

Sarfaraz Zakir

Sarfaraz Zakir piloted the flight which went to Singapore from Bengaluru on May 7. He is settled in Bengaluru and works as senior commander for IndiGo.

Sarfaraz is the son of former Rajya Sabha member B Ibrahim and Maimoona Ibrahim couple. He is a resident of Vas Lane here. He studied in St Aloysius group of institutions here till second PU. He then completed pilot course from Jakkur training School Bengaluru. He got training at Chennai and Hyderabad before going to Australia for advanced training. He reportedly was dreaming to become a pilot since he was young.

After the course at Australia, Sarfaraz joined Deccan Air as captain in 2008 when he was 21. Later, this company was merged with Kingfisher. Sarfaraz continued to serve Kingfisher Airlines and also worked for Jet Airways. Now he is senior commander in IndiGo.

After it came to be known that he piloted the aircraft which brought medical equipment from Singapore, his photo has become viral in social media and he has come in for lot of appreciation.

His father B Ibrahim, said he is proud for the services rendered by his son for the fight against coronavirus. He said he wanted to make him a doctor or engineer but his son wanted to become a pilot. "My son completed commander examination when he was 25, and in Karnataka, he happens to be the youngest to have done that. After people came to know that he was the pilot of the fight bringing medical supplies, I have been receiving numerous calls. We are all happy and proud about him," he explained.
Saldanha's mother Freeda Saldanha, said that Michael is a bold person, always with positive mindset. She said she is proud of him for this rare kind of service he rendered to the countrymen.
09/05/20 Daijiworld
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