Rescue at Timber Trail- Col Ivan Joseph Crasto, Kirti Chakra.
Rescue at Timber Trail.
On 14 and 15 Oct 1992 the rescue at Timber Trail of 10 hapless tourists who were left dangling in a cable car, 1500 feet above the ravines in Himachal was another feather in the cap for the Parachute Regiment & IAF. Major Ivan Joseph Crasto (later Col retd), the hero of ‘Timber Trail Rescue’, was awarded the Kirti Chakra.
The 152 Helicopter Unit of the IAF, along with Maj Ivan Joseph Crasto of 1 Para SF, had in a daring mid-air operation rescued all 10 persons from a cable car which was struck midway after its rope snapped at Timber Trail, near Parwanoo. The Air Force also used Cheetahs and Chetaks in the operation which was led from the front by GroupCapt F.H. Major (later Chief of Staff). Wg Cdr S. Chandra accompanied him in what was later christened as Operation Timber Trail.
“It was a tremendous job as we were just a few feet away from carriage wires” said Fali Major after the successful completion of the operation.
Though nothing much of the rescue operations could be conducted that night due to hostile topography and extreme darkness, the fate of 10 tourists, including four women and a child hung in balance for the whole night.
First Cheetahs and Chetaks were tried and later MI 17 was brought in because of their larger winching units. Group Capt F.H. Major flew the maximum sorties himself allowing Major Crasto to slither down 110 ft or more to land in the stranded cable car which was precariously hooked on to the snapped rope.
While Fali Major was performing unprecedented feats with his helicopters, commandos led by Major Crasto were proving an able match by lowering themselves into the stranded car, using ropes to rescue each of the 10 passengers, one by one, in an unprecedented mid-air show of exemplary courage and determination.