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India Air Force aircraft crash, one pilot reportedly dead

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Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Bengaluru: Two jets of the Indian Air Force’s Suryakiran Aerobatic Team came crashing down after they collided in Bengaluru a day before the Aero India show begins in the city.

According to Indian media, one of the three pilots have reportedly died. The two others, who ejected safely, have been injured.

The accident took place at around 11:50 am during a rehearsal session at the Yelahanka airbase in north Bengaluru. ahead of the mega show.

“There were three pilots, one has died. Two are safe with injuries,” MN Reddi, Director General of Police, Fire Services, told news agency PTI.

A video showed the two Hawk jets crashing down, while performing a complex manoeuvre. Another  video showed thick, black plumes of smoke rising from the airbase.

“Oh my god, oh my god,” a man can be heard saying as the jets crashed into a bushy area in Yelahanka’s ISRO Layout, a residential area. The area near the burning jets has been cordoned off by the police.

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who is in Bengaluru, is rushing to the Yelahanka airbase. “I’m aware of it (incident),” she said, but did not elaborate further.

Aero India 2019 will be held between February 20 and 24. The stunning formations by the Suryakirans, the Air Force’s dare-devil aerobatic squadron is a regular highlight of the aero show.

Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the five-day biennial event. Bengaluru has been hosting the aero show since it started in 1996. The last Aero India show was held in February 2017.

Besides business delegates from the world over, official delegations from a dozen countries will witness the flypast and aerobatic display on the inaugural day. As against 72 aircraft in the previous edition in 2017, only 61 aircraft have registered for flying and static display on the tarmac of the air base this time.

This year, a battery of US Naval assets, including the F/A-18 Super Hornet, will be on display at the aero show as part of strengthening defence cooperation between the two countries.

On Day One, a fly-by will be performed by B-52 Stratofortress bombers assigned to the 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

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