YELAHANKA AIR FORCE STATION, BANGALORE – February 20, 2019. An emotional moment on the first day of Aero India 2019, when Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi was honored today with a ‘Missing man formation’ at Yelahanka Air Force Station in India.
Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi was killed yesterday during rehearsal for the airshow. The other two pilots involved in the crash survived the collision and were treated in the hospital.
The pilots are part of Indian Air Force Aerobatic Team ‘Surya Kiran’. The team’s show for the 5-day event ‘Aero India 2019’ on February 20-24 are cancelled.
Surya Kiran (‘Rays of the Sun’) is an aerobatics demonstration team of the Indian Air Force. The Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) was formed in 1996 and are a part of the 52nd Squadron of the IAF. The team has since performed numerous demonstrations usually with nine aircraft. The squadron was composed of the HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk.2 military trainer aircraft till 2011 and were based at the Bidar Air Force Station in Karnataka. The team was suspended in February 2011 and was re-established with Hawk Mk-132 aircraft in 2017.
Sahil Gandhi graduated from the National Defence Academy in 2003 and was soon commissioned in 2004. He was a Sukhoi SU-30 pilot before joining the Surya Kiran team.
Aero India’s Facebook page yesterday – shortly after the accident – showed us the short, but strong message: “Aerobatic Pilots and crew take risk to make us everyone happy. Respect” 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻
Our thoughts remain with Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, his wife Himani and their 5-year old son Riaan.