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On this day in 2008, the Indian Air Force (IAF) accomplished the seemingly impossible. An An-32 transport aircraft, a workhorse of the IAF fleet, landed at the world’s highest airstrip, Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO), situated at a staggering 16,614 feet.

This remarkable feat pushed the boundaries of the An-32’s capabilities. Landing at such an extreme altitude is no easy task, and DBO presented an additional challenge – an unpaved surface.

However, the unwavering determination of the IAF personnel made this mission a success. Indian Army jawans played a crucial role by compacting the unforgiving terrain to create a makeshift runway. Their ingenuity further shone through as they used ‘Choona’ (lime powder) to mark the centerline and even innovatively crafted distance-to-go markers (DTGMs) by painting flattened jerrycans.

This historic landing left the An-32’s original manufacturer speechless. The aircraft’s performance at such an altitude was beyond anything their calculations had anticipated. The success of this mission can be attributed to two key factors: the meticulously planned and accurate calculations by IAF personnel, and the sheer skill and experience of the aircrew who executed the landing flawlessly.

The IAF’s accomplishment at DBO stands as a testament to the exceptional capabilities and unwavering dedication of its personnel. It serves as an inspiration for future generations, showcasing what can be achieved through teamwork, innovation, and a commitment to excellence.