Captain Deepak Sathe, pilot of Air India Express which crashed on Friday at Kalipur Airport in Kozhikode, had planned a surprise visit to Nagpur, his hometown, for his mother’s birthday on Saturday, his relative said. Captain Sathe was among the 18 people who were killed in the tragedy. 

Sathe had told his mother, Neela Sathe, that he would give her a special surprise on her 84th birthday by visiting her in Nagpur as he hadn’t been able to meet them due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown. However, he died a day before her birthday. The Air India Express plane skidded off during landing at the tabletop runway of Karipur Airport, splitting into two parts. Sathe was commander of the plane. 

“Deepak had last visited his parents on March 11. Earlier he used to visit his parents every month,” Dr Yasothan Sathe, Captain’s relative, told Opoyi.

Deepak Sathe lived with his family in Mumbai and is survived by his wife and two sons.

His mother Neela Sathe remembered him as a “great son”. “He was always the first one to help others in need,” she said, ANI reported.

Earlier on Saturday, the late captain’s cousin Nilesh Sathe shared Facebook post, saying, “Deepak was an experienced aerial operator with 36 years of flying experience. A pass-out of NDA, topper in the 58th course and an awardee of ‘Sword of Honour’, Deepak served Indian Air Force for 21 years before joining as a Commercial Pilot with Air India in 2005.”

He recalled how Deepak had earlier also survived a major crash in 1990 when he was in Air Force. ” He was hospitalised for 6 months for multiple skull injuries and nobody thought that he will fly again. But his strong will power and love for flying made him clear the test again,” Neelesh Sathe wrote.