A special formation flypast by Indian jets and tributes from foreign pilots marked the opening day of the 12th edition of AeroIndia 2019, Asia's largest air show, held in Bengaluru on Wednesday.
The show was held at the Airforce Station in Yelahanka, in the wake of the tragic demise of Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who was part of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT). He died after a mid-air collision with another plane from the team while rehearsing for the airshow on Tuesday.
Three aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) - Tejas, Su-30 Mki and the Jaguar — flew in the 'missing man' formation on Wednesday as a tribute to Sahil Gandhi. The Sarang Helicopter Display team dedicated their performances to the pilot, and in the midst of showcasing Rafale's air power, its French Air Force pilot Captain Nativel also paid tribute to Sahil Gandhi.
Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy also mourned the loss of Sahil Gandhi during his address. "At the outset, I would like to offer my tributes to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who unfortunately died in a mid-air crash yesterday. My deepest condolences to the bereaved family. I wish and hope utmost precaution is taken to avoid such incidents in future", he said as per Times of India.
The air show is expected to draw thousands of people during the last two days when it is open to the general public. The air show has 403 Indian and foreign exhibitors, which is less than the 650 exhibitors who took part in the 2015 edition. Defence officials cited the lack of clarity over the venue as one of the reasons for the drop, reported The Hindu.
The air show has been held in Bengaluru ever since its inception in 1996