Bringing an AN 32 down for a Landing on One Engine: Memoir to Remember

M G Singh By M G Singh, 26th Nov 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>True Stories

The AN 32 is aRussian plane and can carry 44 passangers. I was on of the flights that had an engine failure, but I took the control and brought the plane down safely

An incident to remember

A small incident nearly 2 decades back may interest readers. It looks a small incident now, but it could have led to the death of 40 soldiers. The air force runs regular cross country flights with transport aircraft across the country. These are both training and communication flights. A large number of flights connect the Indian far east ( Assam and other states) with other parts of India.

I recollect that I had been given 10 days casual leave while serving at the Eastern Air Command, headquarters at Shillong. I came down by chopper and landed at Guwahati. I had planned to take the IAC flight to Delhi, but couldn't get a seat. Luckily a AN 32 was just revving up for take off. i passed a message from the ATC tower if I could hitch aride to Delhi. I got a prompt reply from the captain" Board up sir".

The flight plan indicated a direct flight to Delhi.I walked to the aircraft which had its propes beginning to rotate. The flight attendant lowered the ladder for me and I climbed abroad. I carried only a small bag with me. Inside I found 44 soldiers of the Indian army who were also hitching a ride back home. They were all going on leave and as per regulations could travel by a Air Force plane on a training flight.

The AN 32 is a Russian plane. It's a twin engine turbo prop plane and is basically a cargo plane. The plane has extremely powerful engines but a comparative weak airframe. The plane is inherently safe, but by god in case an engine fails the chances of the plane going in a tail spin are bright, leading to a certain crash.

These thoughts were far from my mind as I settled into the front seat and tied the safety belt. I looked back at the soldiers and could see the hope and anticipation in the eyes of the men who were going on leave. I waved to them as a Wing Commander and closed my eyes, thinking a short nap would be a good thing.

The plane took off. The captain was a young Flight Lieutenant along with another Flying Officer. Before nodding off, I went into cockpit and shook hands with the crew. The plane soon reached a height of 20000 ft and the flight looked smooth. The AN 32 takes about 3 hours from Guwahati to Delhi. i was jolted from my nap by a jerk. I looked out and was in for a shock. One of the engines was sputtering and likely to shut down. It was probably a engine failure. As I looked the engine suddenly shut and the aircraft began to lose height. I knew the consequence of engine failure in an An 32 and decided to act. The faces of the 40 old soldiers began to haunt me

I rushed to the cockpit and saw the two pilots white faced and non plussed. It was perhaps their first emergency in the air and they were not sure what to do. I pushed the captain aside and took the joystick in my hand. I had perhaps about 30-40 seconds leeway as I got cracking. I tried firing the engine , but it refused to start up. I quickly lowered the RPM of the other engine to stabilise the plane and tried to keep it level.

Perhaps god was on my side as the lowering of the RPM had an effect. The plane began to descend and did not go into a tailspin . I got in touch with the ATC and learnt we were close to Varanasi. I informed that I was coming in for a crash landing.

I brought the plane down on one engine and as the undercarriage hit the tarmac, I heaved a sigh of relief. I looked back at the soldiers who had realised the danger and were now praying. For me it was a moment to remember and I was glad I saved the lives of the men. it might sound strange, but I was hardly concerned of my death. Surely as the Lord Krishna says and something which I have experienced so many times in my life that things happen only when the lord wishes it, for as the lord says not a leaf moves without my will.


Air Crash An 32, Flying A An 32, Long Distance Flight, Russian Plane

Meet the author

author avatar M G Singh
A man who spent his early years in Air Force. An avid writer with over 6000 articles and 60 short stories published.Two novels on the anvil for publication.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
26th Nov 2015 (#)

Nice post!

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author avatar Ptrikha
28th Nov 2015 (#)

Well, God willed that you live to this day. And I am glad that you and your fellow travelers survived that day.

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author avatar Tranquilpen
21st Nov 2018 (#)

A great tale of valor. Thank you.

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