‘Missing Man’ Flypast at Aero India Honours Suryakiran Pilot
A day after Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, part of IAF's Suryakiran team, died in a crash in Bengaluru, a flypast was conducted by Jaguar, Tejas and Sukhoi 30 aircraft in the 'missing man' formation in honour of the deceased pilot.
The flypast was conducted at the Aero India 2019. It was during the rehearsals for Aero India that two IAF jets collided mid-air on Tuesday, 19 February, near the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru. While two pilots survived with injuries, Wing Commander Gandhi succumbed to death.
A custom observed in the air force of various countries, the 'missing man' formation is an aerial salute to honour a pilot who has died in the line of duty or a veteran. The flypast in this formation has one aircraft position which is left vacant. In September 2017, three Sukhoi-30 MKIs conducted a flypast in this formation to honour Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh.
The tragic death of the pilot from IAF's aerobatic team Suryakiran has cast a shadow on the show.
As the event began on Wednesday, the aircraft of the Suryakiran aerobatics team stood with their canopies covered on the runway behind the inaugural venue. The aircraft would not be participating in the show due to the mishap.
"We had an unfortunate incident and an investigation will take place. Suryakiran won't be part of display," Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria told reporters on Tuesday.
All other displays will go ahead as planned, he had added.