Peerumedu: Even as the work on proposed Sabarimala airport is expected to pick up pace soon, an aircraft has landed in the nearby Idukki district for the first time. The maiden landing was at the airstrip at Sathram, near Vandiperiyar.
Virus SW 80, a small aircraft, which took off from Kochi around 9.30 am landed at Sathram airstrip at 10.30 am. The flight was controlled by Group Captain A K Sreenivasa Iyer, who used to fly MiG-21 fighter planes, and Udayaravi. The pilots were received by a group led by Peerumade legislator Vazhoor Soman.
The airstrip has been constructed to provide training for the cadets of the NCC Air Wing. (NCC is the National Cadet Corps.) The Kerala Public Works Department constructed the airstrip, a runway without normal air base or airport facilities. Sathram airstrip has been built for the landing of small aircraft.
Though attempts were made earlier to land an aircraft in April and June, they were not successful owing to bad weather conditions.
The construction works for the airstrip began in 2017. The construction of a hangar to park 4 small aircraft and the facility to train 50 NCC cadets have been completed on the airstrip premises. The airstrip is hardly 630 metre from the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
How Idukki benefits
The airstrip would be beneficial for the Idukki district administration to be used during emergencies, and for disaster management efforts. Helicopters and Airforce planes can land on this airstrip.
The 650-metre-long runway can handle small aeroplanes, airforce planes, and helicopters.
The Sathram Airstrip is located 15 km from Vandiperiyar, off the Kottayam-Kumily Road. One can reach the airstrip from Pathanamthitta via Seethathodu-Angamoozhi–Gavi–Vallakkadavu.