The Pawan Hans helicopter ferrying Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal (left) had to make an emergency landing at Lilabari Airport in Assam’s Lakhimpur district on Monday Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Captain JJ Chauhan and Captain Rizvi, the two pilots of the Pawan Hans helicopter in which Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his team were flying from Guwahati to Lakhimpur on Monday, have been lauded for applying presence of mind and landing the chopper safely at Lilabari Airport.

This was after the helicopter encountered bad weather conditions near Banderdewa and had to make an emergency landing at the airport in Lakhimpur.

Hrishikesh Goswami, co-passenger and press adviser to Assam CM Sonowal, appreciated the efforts of Captain JJ Chauhan, a former coast guard pilot, and Captain Rizvi, a former Indian Navy officer, for displaying composure and applying presence of mind. “It was because of their efforts that we could manage to land safely today,” Goswami said.

Sources informed EastMojo that Capt JJ Chauhan, who was in command of the helicopter, sought to land at Lilabari Airport in Lakhimpur after he encountered bad weather conditions near Banderdewa. “The pilot took a sharp turn in air as he didn’t want to lose the visual contact of the airport from helicopter. During this, the helicopter faced some turbulence,” sources said, adding: “The pilots were continuously in touch with the Air Traffic Control (ATC) in the entire journey. This is nothing abnormal.”

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Goswami, while talking to media persons, added the pilot had to take the helicopter to a height of 3,000 feet due to deteriorating weather. After staying there for almost 15 minutes, the pilots smartly managed to reduce the height to 200 feet to make visual contact with the ATC,” he added.

“From the helicopter, the last place that I could see was Biswanath Chariali. After that, we could not see anything because of the bad weather. Later, we were told by the pilots that the helicopter had to fly to some extra height to avoid any untoward situation,” Goswami said.

Recalling the situation further, Goswami said that the helicopter “twirled thrice in the air”. “Only because of efforts made by the pilots and the blessings of the people of Assam and the Almighty, chief minister Sonowal and others managed to land safely,” he said.

Apart from CM Sonowal and his press adviser Goswami, CM’s personal secretary and PA Tuheen Hazarika were also in the helicopter. The team members were on their way to Narayanpur from Guwahati to take part in the inaugural ceremony of Madhabdev University. Later, the CM and his team moved towards Narayanpur by road.

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