Flight Lieutenant Tapan Kapoor hailed from Delhi and was born on 27 April 1986. Son of Shri Naresh Kapoor and Smt Lata Kapoor, Flt Lt Tapan grew up in Delhi and studied at Ramjas School Delhi. Known by his nickname ‘Tony” among his friends and family he was very athletic and adventurous. He took a keen interest in sports and excelled in playing basketball, badminton and Cricket. He was endowed with multiple talents which made him popular among the teachers and students during his school days. He was selected as the School Captain and also captained his school Basket and Football teams and won many laurels. He was also a good speaker and led his school team in numerous debate competitions.
Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor was a very affable and spirited person, liked by everyone who came in contact with him. He was also fascinated by airplanes and pursued his interest with full vigor and sincerity. His fascination with aircraft generated a strong inclination towards the Indian Air Force and he saw himself donning the Air Force uniform one day. He completed his aeronautical engineering from the Indian Institute of Aeronautics and joined Indigo Airlines as an Aircraft maintenance engineer. But his heart was set on the IAF and he continued to follow his dream. Eventually, he got selected for the IAF and joined the 78 Aeronautical Engineering Course. He was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on 03 Jan 2011 in the Aeronautical Engineering(Mechanical) branch and later got trained in the MI-17 helicopter.
Mi-17 Helicopter Crash: 25 June 2013
On 25 June 2013, Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor along with the captain and Crew of the Mi-17 helicopter was tasked to move essential supplies and National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) teams to Kedarnath, located at an elevation of over 11000 feet and rescue stranded pilgrims from Kedarnath during the return sorties. Inclement weather, frequently drifting clouds and poor light conditions prevalent in the unforgiving terrain of the narrow valley led to frequent delays in the operations and this made their task extremely demanding. Realizing the gravity of their task and the criticality of the evacuation of some of the stranded pilgrims, Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor and his crew volunteered for the critical mission and got airborne in the first available window of opportunity to position his helicopter at Guptakashi.
During the return leg from Kedarnath to Guptakashi, the aircraft impacted on the steep slopes of the valley and crashed. The weather was so bad at that time that it took a long time for rescue teams to reach the crash site. On that day the helicopter carried out three sorties which were undertaken under deteriorating weather conditions. During these three sorties, they successfully saved 80 precious lives. For this act of conspicuous courage, professional competence and successful execution of a risky mission to save precious lives in hostile weather conditions. Besides Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor, the other martyred brave hearts during the operation included Wg Cdr Darryl Castelino, Flt Lt K Praveen, JWO Akhilesh Kumar Singh, and Sgt Sudhakar Yadav.
Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor was posthumously awarded “Vayu Sena Medal“. Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor who laid down his life for his country during the Uttarakhand flood relief operations, was a dedicated professional who was undaunted by obstacles. The nation will ever remain grateful for his selfless service and supreme sacrifice.
Flt Lt Tapan Kapoor is survived by his father Shri Naresh Kapoor, mother Smt Lata Kapoor and sister Shweta Kapoor.