Just a day ahead of Aero India 2019, two aircraft of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team collided with each other mid-air on Tuesday at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. At around 11.50 am, the pilots, who were engaged in a practice sortie, had to eject immediately after two aircraft collided with each other. One pilot has been killed in the mishap, sources told TNM.
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 were airlifted to Command Hospital in Bengaluru.
"Today morning at around 1150 hrs, two Hawk aircraft of Suryakiran aerobatic 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.
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," the IAF said in a statement.
According to visuals, there were three pilots in the two aircraft that collided. Eyewitnesses have, however, stated that they saw two parachutes eject. Although there were initial reports that one civilian was also injured, a spokesperson with the Ministry of Defence said that there were no civilian casualties.
"There has been no major damage to civilian property and no one but the two pilots, who are undergoing treatment have been injured. No civilian has been injured. One of the aircraft crashed into a portion of one building but no one has been hurt," the spokesperson said.
Unnikrishnan, a resident of ISRO Layout, told TNM that both the planes crashed within metres of his residence. There has been no confirmation on whether the Surya Kiran Team will perform during Aero India yet.