Minhas was born in Karachi. Having joined the air force, he was commissioned in 1971; on August 20 of that year, he was getting ready to take off in a T-33 trainer in Karachi when a Bengali Instructor pilot, Flight Lieutenant Matiur Rahman, gained his way into the back of the plane. He has been reported to have been watching Minhas closely for many weeks for his being new, young and inexperienced.In mid-air, Rahman knocked Minhas out by hitting his wrists and head with a blunt object, with the intention of defecting to India along with the plane.
In mid-flight Minhas regained consciousness. After a tussle between the two pilots, the plane crashed. The crash site of the T-33 was later found 40 km from the Indian border.
Minhas was posthumously awarded Pakistan's top military honour, the Nishan-E-Haider, and became the youngest man and the only member of the Pakistan Air Force to win the award. He also became a national hero. The Pakistan Air Force base at Kamra has been renamed in his honour. In Karachi he was honored by naming main street, Rashid Minhas Road (Urdu: شاہراہ راشد منہاس ), after him.