ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN – A Pakistan Air Force (PAF) F-16AM fighter jet has crashed this morning near a park in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, BBC reports. The F-16 crashed during rehearsals for the Pakistan Day Parade on March 23. The pilot died in the crash as a hero trying to save people on the ground, according to an eyewitness.
“Pakistan Air Force reports with regret that a PAF F-16 aircraft crashed near Shakarparian, Islamabad during the rehearsals of 23 March parade,” the PAF said in its statement. “Rescue teams have been dispatched towards the site of the crash.”
Pakistan’s hero and elite fighter pilot
A PAF spokesman said to Reuters that “Wing Commander (WC) Noman Akram embraced martyrdom in the crash.”
WC Noman Akram pulled up the F-16, rolled inverted for a so called Split-S maneuver at apparantly a too low altitude and therefore probably wasn’t able to pull up in time. He did not use the ejection seat and the F-16 crashed and caught fire.
Photographer Rana Suhaib – who witnessed the accident – took this emotional shot, about 15 seconds before the tragic crash:
“The pilot tried to safe the population till the last moment. He took away from population. No ejection seat, WC Noman Akram saved all,” Rana Suhaib said to flyhigh.news. The photographer witnessed the tragic accident and is heartbroken. “The pain is not expressible,” Suhaib added.
The F-16 crashed in the Shakarparian area, which is located just outside Islamabad’s city centre – near several museums, golf clubs and the Jinnah Stadium.
WC Noman Akram saved a lot of lives in the city of Islamabad by maneuvering the F-16 to a safe area, instead of using the ejection seat and risking a lot of lives in the city centre.
This was confirmed later by Pakistan Air Force officials, who reportedly said that “WC Noman Akram could have easily ejected, when the F-16 was over Islamabad, but ensured the fighter jet to go down in a secluded area to avoid casualties on the ground.”
Footage of the crash
Video footage posted on social media, showed how the F-16 failed to pull out of a split S maneuver before it hit the ground and caught fire:
An official of the district administration said that there was little chance of any casualties on the ground. The aircraft had crashed in the parade ground – which is largely deserted – despite being in the heart of the city of Islamabad.
A PAF spokesman also told Reuters that they were “ascertaining the losses”.
“A board of inquiry has been ordered by Air Headquarters to determine the cause of the incident” the PAF added.
What really caused the F-16 to crash remains unclear at this moment, but one thing is clear – WC Noman Akram is a hero for saving a lot of lives in the city centre of Islamabad by maneuvering the F-16 to a secluded area.
Pakistan news reports said that the F-16 belonged to No.9 Squadron ‘The Griffins’, a PAF fighter squadron assigned to the No.38 Multi-Role Wing of the PAF Central Air Command. The squadron is stationed at PAF Mushaf Air Base, located just outside the city of Sargodha, about 13 miles south of Islamabad.
No.9 Squadron is the PAF’s first fighter squadron, which uses a red griffin to symbolize strength, aggressiveness and vigilance. The Griffins are considered as the most elite unit of the Pakistan Air Force.
The PAF is currently operating about 80 F-16AM/ABs (F-16A/B MLU (Mid-Life Update)), F-16A/B ADFs, as well as F-16C/Ds.
(Head photo by © Rana Suhaib)
Jerry Taha is Chief Editor, Author and main contributor of flyhigh.news. He has written for avgeekery.com and luchtvaartnieuws.nl
Jerry is a passionate author, photographer, videographer, and YouTube creator. In addition to his love for aviation, he loves to travel, being in nature, and he is an Ajax Amsterdam fan.
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