Oh, you say you fly jets for the Air Force? Yeah, that's cool. Say, didja ever have the cockpit lights and most of your instruments go out on your aging MiG in the middle of a pitch-black night and have to land with a flashlight in your teeth? Then, three months later, did you glide another fighter to the ground—from the backseat—after a bird struck its only engine and flamed the sucker out?
On April 30, 2013, he was flying a practice diversion sortie by night on a MiG-21 Bison aircraft to Halwara when the battery heavy discharge light came on along with the master blinker indicating a failure of the electrical system of the aircraft. All the cockpit lights slowly faded away, making it impossible for him to read the instruments which are required for safe operation of the aircraft. Singh lowered the undercarriage and flaps to take off position as that would not be possible once the electrical system failed completely. "At this stage, disregarding his personal safety, he took a decision to take off his mask and hold the torch in his mouth to illuminate the instruments," the air force said.
In three months, Singh again exhibited impressive flying skills. On the night of July 29, 2013, as the captain of MiG-21 trainer, he was on the rear seat of the jet. The aircraft experienced total loss of engine power after a bird hit during the landing phase.
Long story short, Singh glided the plane down without any damage. India decided to award him something called the Shaurya Chakra, also known as a "braveheart" medal, for "his ability to maintain his composure in a grave emergency situation, courage, creative thinking and professionalism." Hey, it's cheaper than buying newer fighter jets, I guess.
In any case, if you fear imminent death on airplanes, you should probably fly with Singh. If, on the other hand, you fear mind-dulling boredom on airplanes, you should fly with Singh, too!
[Photo credit: AP]