YELAHANKA AIR FORCE STATION, BANGALORE – February 19, 2019. Two Jets of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Display Team of the Indian Air Force collided in mid-air during a rehearsal today for the 12th edition of the Aero India Airshow, on February 20-24.
According to various Indian media one pilot was killed. The pilot who lost his life in the crash – 38 year old Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi – was alone in his cockpit. The other two pilots – 2IC Wing Commander Vijay Shelke and Squadron Leader Tejeshwar Singh – ejected successfully from the other aircraft. They were both taken to the hospital with injuries, but are out of danger.
The accident occured near the Yelahanka Air Force Station in the Indian State of Karnataka where the city of Bangalore is located.
The pilots were practising a maneuver that they would perform during the Aero India 2019 show. The two jets – Hawk Mk127’s – crashed at 11:46 am local time.
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. He completed his initial training at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad before moving to the Bidar airbase to join the team. He leaves his wife Himani behind with their five year old son Riaan.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman – who is in Bengaluru – has visited the site where the jets crashed. A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the accident.