IAF pilots to get Shaurya Chakra, three Vayu Sena Medals


New Delhi : Safe recovery of a Russian-origin MiG-27 fighter jet despite sustaining critical injuries after a canopy burst while cruising at near supersonic speed at an altitude of 9,500 feet has earned Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot Flight Lieutenant Manish Arora a Shaurya Chakra, the nation’s third highest peacetime gallantry medal.

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Arora was on an airtest practice sortie on the MiG-27 that took off from Kalaikunda in West Bengal when the accident took place while being airborne Feb 4 last year.

Despite excruciating pain in the right ear, even as his mask was flooded with blood, the young fighter pilot withstood the wind blast and loss of pressure, which severely restricted his mobility.

He also overcame the lack of frontal cockpit visibility affected by blood stains and made a safe landing of the aircraft, thus saving the fighting machine and his life.

For his act of grit and determination, President Prathiba Patil named Arora to receive the Shaurya Charka.

In yet another safe recovery of a fighter jet that had also suffered a canopy burst, Squadron Leader Vikas Bhushan, a Sukhoi pilot, was named for the Vayu Sena Medal for gallantry.

The incident happened March 8, 2010, in the Pokhran ranges of Rajasthan during a routine training sorties. Canopy burst is amongst the gravest emergencies encountered in any fighter aircraft.

The two other Vayu Sena Medals for gallantry will be received by wing commanders Sushil Chaturvedi and Manjit Singh Sidhu.

Chaturvedi, a helicopter pilot, will be honoured for a rescue operation Mar 8 last year in Lar jungles of Mahore-Gulabgarh in Jammu and Kashmir.

Wing Commander Sindhu is a member of the Sarang helicopter display team. He gets the honour for safely manoeuvring his Advanced Light Helicopter despite loss of power during a practice sortie before the Vayu Shakti exercise in Pokhran ranges in Rajasthan Feb 27 last.

The president has also named 59 IAF officers for distinguished service medals.

Six air marshals are among the top officers named for Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM) for distinguished service of an exceptional order.

Another 12 officers, including two air marshals, five air vice marshals and five air commodores will be awarded Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) for distinguished service of a very high order.