A message about a Personal Rescue Beacon being activated close to Pingdong La was received at the Regional Coordination Centre for rescue. The signal was coded for two German nationals trekking from Ringdum to Dibling. This message was relayed immediately to Western Air Command and the Siachen Pioneers Helicopter unit based at Leh was tasked to investigate. Since it was evening and weather in the region did not permit a launch, it was decided to get airborne at day break.
Michael and his wife Annettee were trekking when they were caught in a blizzard. For two days incessant snowfall prevented any movement and by then the couples’ supplies had run out. Michael decided to activate his Personal Rescue beacon as a last resort.
Two helicopters piloted by Wg Cdr Dey and Wg Cdr Pradhan of the Siachen pioneers got airborne at 0600 hrs today and headed in the probable direction of the PRB. On initial approach they could not find anything. “We went back to where the footprints had started and worked our way backwards. A little ahead we found a grey protrusion which initially looked like a rock face, but on closer inspection found the edges to be flapping due to wind. Soon Michael came out of the tent, which we thought was a rock and waved to us” said Wg Cdr Dey, the mission leader and commanding officer of the unit.
“The site was on an incline of 35-45 degrees and we could not land the heptr. I held on a low hover and my co-pilot jumped out to ascertain that these were the people we were looking for and their medical condition. Both were able to move about, though the gentleman had developed Frost Bite. I picked up the lady and asked Wg Cdr Dey to come down and pick up the gentleman in a similar manner. Both on board we flew back safely to Leh” said Wg Cdr Pradhan the captain of the second heptr.