Bengaluru, Feb 20: Aero India the Asia's biggest air carnival began on a sombre note in the aftermath of mid-air crash involving two Hawk ‘Surya Kiran’ aircraft yesterday leading to death of a pilot wing Commander Sahil Gandhi. He died in a mid-air collision during the rehearsal that also left two other pilots injured.
As a tribute to Wg Cdr Gandhi, a ‘Missing Man’ formation was flown during the air display by Jaguar, Tejas and Sukhoi. The Jaguar was piloted by Wg Cdr Avasthi of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Tejas by Wg Cdr Siddarth of National Flight Test Centre and Sukhoi by Wg Cdr Prashanth Nair of Indian Air Force.
Meanwhile the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team Aircraft remained in their canopies at the IAF Airfield covered on runway behind the inaugural venue. The IAF authorities had decided not to fly the aerobatic team in the Aero India 2019 due to the loss of two aircraft and one pilot in a mid-air collision.
A Rafale combat aircraft flew at low speed to pay tribute to Wg Com Gandhi. A custom is observed in the air force of various countries, the missing man formation is and aerial salute in honour of a pilot who has died in the line of duty or a veteran. The flypast in this formation has one aircraft position which his left vacant. (UNI)