Service No : IC-44541F
Place of birth : Pune(Maharashtra)
Service : Army
Last Rank : Lieutenant Colonel
Unit : 23 (I) R &O Flt
Arm/Regt : Army Aviation Corps
Operation : CI & IS Ops
Martyrdom : October 29, 2004
Lieutenant Colonel Pramod Keshav Pande hailed from Pune in Maharashtra and joined the Army after completing his education. He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Regiment of Artillery, an important combat support arm of the Indian Army. Later he opted for the Army Aviation Corps and got trained as a Helicopter pilot. By 2004, he had developed into a professionally competent Helicopter pilot with expertise in various air operations.
Army Air Operation: 29 Oct 2004
During Oct 2004, Lt Col PK Pande was serving with 23(I) Recce and Observations Flight functioning under the operational control of 6 Mountain Division based at Bareilly, in Uttar Pradesh. 6 Mtn Div exercised operational control over a number of units deployed in various locations including border areas. 29 October 2004, Maj Gen DP Singh as GOC, decided to conduct reconnaissance of the border posts of his units. 23(I) R & O Flight of the Army Aviation Corps was tasked to undertake this mission. Lt Col PK Pande and Capt Arjun Sardana were detailed to undertake this task in their Cheetah Helicopter. The Cheetah Helicopter of 23(I) R & O Flight was a single-engine helicopter, of 1970s vintage and derived from the French Alouette. The Cheetah Helicopter was known to be a high-performance helicopter designed for operation over a very wide range of weight, center of gravity, and altitude conditions. The five-seater Cheetah helicopter was versatile, multi-role, multi-purpose, highly maneuverable, and rugged in construction It was suitable for commuting, observation, surveillance, logistics support, rescue operations and recce missions. Lt Col PK Pande as captain and Capt Arjun Sardana as co-pilot were tasked with one such recce mission to be conducted by Maj Gen DP Singh, on 29 Oct 2004.
The crew along with Maj Gen DP Singh, took off from Bareilly base at about 7:30 am in the morning of 29 Oct 2004 after completing the mandatory airworthiness checks. However, the Cheetah Helicopter lost contact with the ATC at about 9:30 am. It appeared to have developed a serious snag which apparently made the aircraft uncontrollable. Though Lt Col PK Pande and Capt Arjun Sardana were experienced pilots with substantial flying experience, they could not succeed in bringing the aircraft under control. Consequently, the Cheetah Helicopter crashed near the Indo-Tibetan border, a few km from Badrinath, in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand. Ground search parties along with the Army Aviation Corps and the Indian Air Force’s aerial search parties were dispatched to the region to locate the wreckage. The wreckage was eventually found near Mana Pass close to the Indo-China border. Maj Gen DP Singh and the pilots Lt Col PK Pande and Capt Arjun Sardana could not survive the crash and were martyred. Lt Col PK Pande was a committed soldier and professionally competent pilot, who laid down his life in the line of his duty.