Just a day ahead of Aero India Show 2019 a mid-air collision of two Hawk trainer jets occurred, during the practice session of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) of the Indian Air Force.
The unfortunate incident at Bangalore’s Yelahanka Airbase, where two aircraft missed the line formation to collide with each other, occurred at around 11:50 A.M. One aircraft flying inverted crashed into another Surya Kiran, the two hawks were being maneuvered by three pilots out of which one has been declared dead on 19th Feb.
34-year-old Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi has been reportedly killed in the Air crash while two Squadron Leaders Vijay Shelke and Tejeswar Singh were gravely injured. One civilian has also been injured in the crash. The injured pilots who were airlifted are undergoing treatment in the Intensive Care Unit at the commando hospital at HAL.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman who chose not to speak about the incident initially told media that she was aware of it. Later speaking at the Aero India Show press conference the Defense Minister gave a statement on the risks involved in flying but failed to answer whether it could have been averted.
"Averting the accident .. need to go to the court of inquiry before we put the facts out so that conclusion can be formed out of it. I will the wait until the incident goes through the court of inquiry before saying anything," Seetharaman argued.
Surya Kiran Aerobatics Cancelled:
Surya Kiran is an aerobatics demonstration team of Indian Air Force, formed in 1996 and are a part of the 52nd Squadron of the IAF. Nine aircraft were a part of this rehearsal, it was spearheaded by Pilot Vijay Shelke. The Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who was killed in the accident was a pilot of Surya Kiran-7.
The chances of finding the body of the deceased pilot Sahil Gandhi are bleak as the aircraft disintegrated with him inside. The aircraft crashed on house but fortunately, no civilian casualties were reported.
Pilots presence of mind saved Lives:
The pilots averted the possibilities of a major disaster mainly because a chunk of crowd lived nearby. By isolating themselves to an empty plot, they ensured the safety of civilians.
This is the 2nd incident of aircraft crash ever since the rehearsals started. Earlier this month two pilots died when a newly upgraded IAF Mirage 2000 TI aircraft crashed at the HAL airport in Bengaluru. The deceased were identified as Squadron Leader Siddharth Negi and Squadron Leader Sameer Abrol. Though they were able to eject before the aircraft crashed, they succumbed to injuries.
This is reportedly the fifth incident where Indian defense personnel