Bengaluru: Two Hawk aircraft of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team crashed during a rehearsal near the Yelahanka Air Force base ahead of the Aero India show in Bengaluru, killing one pilot.
The Indian Air Force confirmed that two of the three pilots on board the aircraft had ejected, but the third sustained fatal injuries.
“Today morning at around 1150 hrs, two Hawk aircraft of Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team of IAF crashed while practicing for the forthcoming Aero India Air Show. Three pilots were occupants. Two pilots ejected and have been evacuated to the Command Hospital. Third pilot sustained fatal injuries. Damage to life and property in the vicinity of crash site is being ascertained. A Court of Inquiry will investigate the cause of the accident,” the IAF said.
The pilot killed was later identified as Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, while the ones who ejected were Wing Commander V.T. Shelke and Squadron Leader T.J. Singh.
M.N. Reddi, the DGP of Fire and Emergency Services, had initially reported that there had been a third pilot present, who was “feared dead”.
#WATCH Two aircraft of Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team crashed today at Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru, during rehearsal for #AeroIndia2019. One civilian hurt. Both pilots ejected, the debris has fallen near ISRO layout, Yelahanka new town area. #Karnataka pic.twitter.com/gJHWx6OtSm
— ANI (@ANI) February 19, 2019
The Bengaluru Police said one civilian was injured in the accident. Seemanth Kumar Singh, additional commissioner (East Zone) said the debris had fallen near the ISRO Layout in Yelahanka New Town area.
Several crowdsourced videos have emerged from eyewitnesses and locals, showing the crash site and the Hawk aircraft losing control.
It must be recalled that in 2015, Aero India had witnessed another crash when the Flying Bulls aerobatics team collided mid-air.
Surya Kiran a big draw at Aero India
Aero India 2019, the 12th edition of the biennial show, begins 20 February and is supposed to goes on for five days. The expo provides a significant platform in bolstering business opportunities in the international aviation sector.
The Surya Kiran Aerobatic Display team has always been one of the biggest crowd-pullers at the Aero India shows held in Bengaluru. Only recently, the team upgraded from Kiran aircraft to the Hawk.
This article has been updated with the names of the pilots released by the IAF.