A day ahead of AeroIndia 2019, two aircraft of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team crashed on Tuesday at the Yelahanka Airforce Station in Bengaluru during rehearsals. One pilot has been killed in the mishap that took place around 11.50 am, HAL sources told TNM.
According to HAL, which is organising the event, the squadron was from the Bidar Air Force Station and was rehearsing for the final event on Wednesday when the wing of one of the aircraft reportedly hit the other.
According to visuals, there were three pilots in the two aircraft that crashed. Eyewitnesses have, however, stated that they saw two parachutes eject.
The deceased pilot has been identified as Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who flew as Surya Kiran 7. The other two pilots, team 2IC Wing Commander Vijay Shelke and Squadron Leader Tejeshwar Singh have been injured and have been moved to Command Hospital.
HAL sources told TNM that one civilian has also been injured in the incident. The debris from the crash has landed near ISRO layout in Yelahanka New Layout.
Unnikrishnan, a resident of ISRO Layout, told TNM that both the planes crashed within meters of his residence.
“There were terrible vibrations and I got really scared. When I went out to see what happened, the aircraft had crashed and were on fire. One farmhouse on the right side of my building was burnt down and another block of houses on the left side of my house was also burnt. I saw many firefighters rushing to the spot and they were carrying the injured persons away,” he said.
The Surya Kiran is the Indian Air Force’s aerobatic display team. The Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) was raised in 1996 with Kiran MK–II aircraft. The Team for the first time carried out a 09 aircraft formation display on 15 August 1998. The SKAT with nine-aircraft formation has performed numerous demonstrations worldwide and is one amongst the renowned public display aerobatic teams. The aerobatic team of IAF has been resurrected with Hawk MK-132 aircraft replacing the Kiran aircraft. The aircraft are powered by the Rolls-Royce Adour 871 engine.
This comes more than two weeks after an Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed near the HAL airport in the city killing two airmen — Squadron Leader Siddharth Negi and Squadron Leader Sameer Abrol. The mishap occurred when the flight was being flown for a test sortie.