As a Tribute to Fallen Pilot, Suryakiran Jets Fly at Aero India

As a Tribute to Fallen Pilot, Suryakiran Jets Fly at Aero India


Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam

Four days after the crash that killed Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi and injured two other pilots, the Suryakiran aerobatics team of Indian Air Force performed at Aero India 2019 for the first time on Saturday, 23 February, as a tribute to their fallen comrade.

Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who flew aircraft number 7 of the aerobatics team, had lost his life in a mid-air crash near Yelahanka Air Force station on 19 February. A court of Inquiry was ordered into the crash and the Suryakiran team was grounded.

Earlier on 19 February, addressing a press conference, Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria had said that Suryakiran will not be part of the display at Aero India 2019. But on Friday night, the team’s name was added to the list of teams performing on Saturday.

The otherwise nine-aircraft demonstration will be flying with only seven jets. The team took off at 10.15 am, without their trademark background score. The team didn’t perform any maneuvers, but performed a few flypasts in honour of their deceased fellow pilots. 

Also Read : Surya Kiran Crash at Aero 2019: Should the Show Go On?

What is Suryakiran?

The Suryakiran is a demonstration of the Indian Air Force usually with nine aircrafts. Till 2011, the squadron consisted of HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk II military trainer aircraft. The team was suspended in 2011 and was re-established in 2017 with Hawk Mk-132 aircraft.

It was the first time the team was going to perform at Aero India since their suspension. The aircraft collision happened while performing the mirror pass or Calypso pass manoeuvre – which is where one of the aircraft fly on top of the other but inverted.

During his briefing Bhadauria had said that the risks in these formations are very high.

“In this particular incident they were doing a mirror image. The margin of error is very low. Whether it was an execution error or a bird that hit will be found out in investigation.”
Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria 

Also Read : 1 Pilot Dead As 2 Jets from Surya Kiran Team Collide at Aero India

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