Covid flying- Introduction
Covid flying has been the most worthwhile flying i have ever done. My name is Capt Sanjith Christopher, a pilot flying for the Government of India. We were carrying out a lot of medical evacuation all around the country during the peak of covid. Back in August 2020, I arrived in Aizawl, the capital city of Mizoram. I had been to Mizoram many times for flying. But this time Mizoram looked different. The street that once was bubbling with crowds and busy markets was now empty. Covid had hit the state quite bad and we were here to help.
On a Sunday morning at around 7am, I recieved a call from the administration, saying that 3 patients have been reported in Champhai, which is located in the eastern part of Mizoram.By 0800 we took off. We landed there in less than 30 minutes.
I could see an ambulance near the helipad.Normally when we come to this helipad, there are a lot of people there to see off and recieve outgoing/ incoming passengers, but this time it was empty. The ambulance doors opened, and boarding of patients onto the aircraft started.
All 3 of them were in their late 60s and were very weak out of which 2 of them were on stretcher and 1 could walk. By the time, the other two stretchers were being loaded onto the aircraft, the third person slowly walked and tried to board on his own. On seeing his struggle to get into the aircraft and the ambulance staff busy with the stretchers, I decided to help him.
On seeing me advance towards him, he waved his hands and shouted , to keep me away. I could not make out what he was trying to say, he was speaking in mizo language. He was struggling to get into the aircraft, seeing this I again tried to hold him and help him out, to which he pushed me back with all his might. I understand the covid situation, but I had a PPE kit on and so did he, which considerably reduced the risk. I felt offended. But anyway he somehow dragged his way in. We secured the passengers and took off. On arriving back at Aizawl, the patients were boarded onto an ambulance. The man passed a chit to our local staff who speak Mizo and English. It was a message for me.
“My dear son, I appreciate your courage to help people like me. But this is a difficult time, you should take care of yourself. You are our hope. Your service is necessary for the people for Mizoram, which makes your well-being very important. Thankyou. God bless you”.
I literally had goosebumps. He was just protecting me. Things are never quite as they seem. Covid flights have been quite risky, but it has taught many important lessons in my life.