NEW DELHI: Group Captain AK Patnaik details the Indian Air Force evacuation of 112 passengers ( 76 Indians and 36 foreign citizens) from the-then-epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic Wuhan, and the transport of 15 tonnes of medical supplies to China. The Flight Commander, 81 Squadron (Skylords) in this chat with StratNews Global Associate Editor Amitabh P.Revi takes us through the mission, the planning with multiple ministries and organisations, the goal, and the flawless execution of the mission on February 26, 2020. He outlines the duty cycle of 25+ hours which is even above emergency cycles, the logistics, how they operated with bio-hazard kits on, even offloading supplies and how they changed the C-17 Globemaster’s configuration for the flight back home. With all the precautions taken, there was no spread of the virus to any crew member. In the second of the series- Enemy Inside The Gates: India’s Military Virus Warriors, Group Captain Patnaik says, “the smiles of the passengers, especially small kids, is all the reward that’s needed.”
Group Captain AK Patnaik has been flying the C17 Globemaster for seven years. He has a combined flying experience of 5500 hours and has participated in various HADR missions flying Globemaster.