For three months, starting 18 Jun 2018, the Indian Air Force would create an airbridge between Pithoragarh and Gunji, in an effort to airlift 1080 registered passengers to Gunji to enable them to continue their journey for the coveted annual Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
The requirement for the IAF to pitch in arose, when the MEA approached the MoD for air effort between the places where the connectivity was envisaged to be poor. "The IAF is ever ready to take over any task assigned by the Govt and thereafter ensures that it is executed in a most professional manner," said Air Cmde Pendse of Western Air Command, who is overlooking the operations.
The command had been chosen by Air HQ for this task, especially due to the experience its heptr pilots have in flying in mountainous terrain and landing at high altitudes, given the fact that Gunji is at an altitude of 3100 mts above the sea level.
"We have deployed three MLH class of heptrs at Pithoragarh which would be carrying approximately 60-80 passengers per day," said the task force commander positioned at Pithoragarh. The heptrs, from the Kirpan and Nubra Warrior units of the IAF, would be deployed for about three months catering for the return journey as well and would fly about 300 hrs in the duration of the operations.