Leh-- 1982. I was to receive a senior officer at Leh airfield and accompany him to the Formation Headquarters for an important meeting. I instructed the driver, first thing in the morning, to keep the 'Jonga' (Army version of an SUV) ready. I rang up the local ATC (Air Traffic Controller) to check the ETA of the Aircraft. I was told that since there was bad whether at the originating airfield, there would be some delay in the arrival of the flight from its normal time. Therefore, instead of going and waiting at the Airport which was about fifteen to twenty minutes drive from our unit, I decided to go to the office first and wait there. The office was walking distance from our Mess where I was staying. As I was walking to the office, I heard some ringing in the air. It was the sound of an AN --12, the Indian Air force transport plane. I looked towards the sky. Though I could not see the aircraft, I knew that it was fast approaching.
My sharp sense of hearing was one thing that I could really boast of and the credit goes to a magazine which i had read way back during my school days. It had carried an article that described as to how one could improve one's five senses. Out of the five, I had tried on the sense of hearing first, the method of which was the easiest. (As per the instructions given in the magazine, while lying down on the bed at night, one should first listen to the sounds in the immediate vicinity without concentrating on the origin of the sounds, subsequently widen the radius of the concentric circles and then listen to the sounds emanating from farther and farther). Having practised that for some period of time, I could feel that my sense of hearing had improved to a great extent and I flaunted the same quite often by telling about a faint or a distant sound which I had heard but others had not.
Although, that day, this ability of mine had helped me to hear the sound of the coming Aircraft early but the notice period was not good enough that I would reach the Airport well before the landing of the same. However, since the 'Jonga' was readily available in front of the office with the driver waiting there, I started right away.
As we made an exit from the unit area and joined the main road, I could see the aircraft right above our heads. My driver looked at me. I nodded, and he pressed the gas pedal harder. The road ran parallel along the Indus river which flew in the opposite direction. The aircraft had started gliding over the river. It had already over taken us and would land in a few seconds. The visiting officer would look for me at the tarmac itself after disembarking. My absence there would cause embarrassment to him as well, as to me and my unit. It was my fault to have decided to wait in the office instead of going and waiting at the airport itself. I had no option but to close my eyes and recite the prayer which I do every morning.
The aircraft had crossed through the two low lying hills at the edge of the runway, which the pilots called India Gate which actually formed a sort of gateway to the runway for the incoming aircrafts. It was about to make its touch down, when its engines suddenly started accelerating. I looked towards my right where the runway was visible from the road. The aircraft had flown past the runway, picking up height again. It went into its orbit and after making a full circle over the town, it landed after good about ten minutes. By that time I was at the tarmac, ready to receive the visitor.
Later I found out that as the aircraft was about to land, an ambulance had suddenly come on the runway, forcing the pilot to abort landing.
Was it the ambulance ?
I call it the Divine Intervention attributed to my prayers ?
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