Monday, 25 January 2021
Squadron Leader Vivek Gairola is on the posted strength of a front line Su-30 MKI squadron. He is a Four Aircraft Leader and trainer captain with nine hundred hours of accident/ incident free flying.
On 08 June 2020, SqnLdr Vivek Gairola was authorized to fly a Night Air to Air Refuelling sortie. During the exercise, while taking correct actions for a misengagement the refueling drogue went below the aircraft nose. The aircraft immediately experienced a strong pitch up and longitudinal oscillations along with associated Fly By Wire (FBW) failure warnings. San Ldr Vivek Gairola controlled the aircraft and continued to fall back to astern position thus steering clear of the FRA (Refueller) and other fighter aircraft in close vicinity. Displaying composure in face of a critical emergency, he decided to divert to the nearest airbase and took correct subsequent actions to rule out other system failures. During the recovery he delegated the duties of Radio Telephony (R/T) and throttle management to the Weapon System Operator (WSO) as both his hands were required to overcome the strong stick forces. With great human effort and skill he flew the aircraft by night, avoiding disorientation and executed a safe landing. Despite the difficult situation, Sqn Ldr Vivek Gairola was able to correctly identify the indications of a critical emergency, assess the options available and take timely corrective action thus saving precious combat assets of the nation.
Sqn Ldr Vivek Gairola displayed excellent flying skill, decision making ability, crew resource management and courage in safe recovery of the aircraft. Even under duress, he remained calm and composed.
For act of exceptional courage, flying skill, decision making and valour shown for safely recovering a stricken aircraft, Squadron Leader Vivek Gairola has been awarded Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry).