Sunday, March 25, 2012

Kargil Hero Pilot Perumal Remembered

I received this tribute to Group Captain Perumal Alagaraja, who was decorated for flying operations in the 1999 Kargil War. The officer passed away in January this year of a heart attack. This is by the officer's friend, Radharamanan:

Group Capt Perumal Alagaraja passed away on the 7th of Jan. He retired from the IAF and was a Kingfisher Airlines pilot. A good friend of mine. He died of a heart failure. He was awarded the Shaurya Chakra for gallantry in the Kargil war. A very unassuming chap with humble beginnings, his father was a flower shop owner in the town of Rajapalayam in Tamil Nadu. He passed through Sainik School Amaravati near Coimbatore. After NDA and flight school he was posted to the 106 Recce sqdn where he spent his entire air force career . He also did a stint in staff college Wellington and was posted to Air HQ Delhi. He was one of the senior most experienced pilots on the Canberra. He used to recollect his experiences in the Kargil war.

Then Squadron Leader Alagaraja Perumal was on the second run of a photo reconnaissance mission flying very close to the LoC at Batalik on May 21, when a stinger missile hit the jet pipe of his Canberra's starboard engine. Perumal managed to return to Srinagar after a courageous 45-minute flight. For the first time in IAF history, a missile-hit plane managed a safe return.

He also told me he had the gyros of the stinger missile that hit his engine and apparently it had got stuck in wing after the explosion. He described to me in detail the day he got hit by a missile .After hearing a loud bang, the Canberra started shuddering and realized that he had been hit, this was confirmed by a MiG-29 that was flying CAP nearby. He was given the choice to bail out by the base but chose to stay with the aircraft. After he checked all the vital parameters he found he could control the aircraft. His Instrument panel was out. So guided by a another aircraft he made a safe landing in Srinagar AFB. Baliing out of a Canberra is a tricky business as they don’t have ejection seats .The crew have to strap on their parachutes ie the pilot and navigator and exit via a hatch! I really don’t know how the crew can do that with an out of control aircraft! He would love explaining the reach of the Canberra and that it was a classic that few other aircraft could match.

He was QFI as well and used to tell me how he encouraged his students that if they had the passion they could excel and it was not necessary to be from a well off family to become a pilot in the airforce, He would have been one of the few officers who sent money home to his parents, as generally one is given to believe that a majority of pilots hail from upper middleclass backgrounds.

Fly to your maker my friend and R.I.P.

Photo of officer with Canberra / Bharat-Rakshak

18 comments :

Avinash said...

Incredible story... thanks to Radharamanan and you for sharing the story...Perumal will always be missed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing , wonderful story
Mallik

Himlynx said...

Thanks for remembering Gp Capt Perumal.

Wg Cdr J Thomas (Retd)

Murali said...

Rest in Peace..

Anonymous said...

Gp Capt(now)Perumal SC and Gp Capt(now) UK Jha (nav) the crew of the Canberra that was hit by a Stinger. Was not aware of his demise.. RIP. Yes, the seeker head was embedded in the starboard engine with the jet pipe blown open as if cut by a can opener! The ac lived to fly another day whereas Peru has moved on now. Rest in peace. May the almighty bring solace to the bereaved family.

barani said...

a salute to the hero

barani said...

a salute to the hero

Anonymous said...

Incredible story and my salutes to this gentleman-Sobin,UK

Ram said...

Such stories of stoic valour and grit will encourage future generations to join forces. Group Captain Pareumal is one more example to show that its not the machine that matter but the man behind it.
I bow my head to thee Sir. May his soul RIP.

Anonymous said...

Lovely article and such do inspire the youth.
However relating to bailing out the author made a statement''I really don’t know how the crew can do that with an out of control aircraft! '' Well if the plane is in control what would be the need and why would someone want to bail out!!! its only when the Air craft is uncontrolable the crew has to bail out

Pratik Das said...

Thank you for sharing this.

R.I.P Gp Capt Perumal

Pratik Das said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Amazing story of raw courage. Reminds me of Sqn. Leader Mangat bringing back a badly shot up Sukhoi 7 in the 1971 war. Extraordinary men, indeed! Rest in peace Group Captain Perumal Alagaraja.

Anonymous said...

R.I.P.

Anonymous said...

was an honour to learn my initial flying skills under his supervision. a true leader, motivator and equally enthusiast about anything and everything in life. was not aware of his demise..RIP peru sir...

Balbinder Singh Marwaha said...

I knew Perumal as a squadron mate
and a junior pilot.He was a very sound pilot and a fine humanbeing.
May Almighty grant peace to his soul and courage to his family to bear his loss.
Air Commodore B S Marwaha( Retd)
Ex Commodore Commandant 106 Squadron

Balbinder Singh Marwaha said...

I had the opportunity to know Perumal as a squadron mate and a junior pilot.He was a very sound pilot and a very fine human being. May Almighty grant peace to his soul and courage to his family to bear his loss.
Air Commodore B S Marwaha (Retd)
Ex Commodore Commandant 106 SR squadron

Rajgopal Narayanan said...

Just wished to share a coincidence of life for me with Perumal Sir, He had been my instructor at AFA during my initial days and after postings, I lost touch with him. After 15 years when I came out & moved to Bangalore at an apartment behind Yelahanka AFB. I had just started moving into the apartment and due to the noise my neighbour opened the door to investigate and guess who Gp. Cpt Perumal.. It is an honour that I had the opportunity to enjoy his company IAF style but as civilian neighbours....After he left KFA he joined SSL aviation for a C90 aircraft and I am sure the aircraft would have been blessed to have Gp. Cpt Peru in command. RIP sir..Miss you .