As the mega aviation exhibition Aero India Show 2019 began on Wednesday in Bengaluru, three Indian Air Force aircraft with a Su-30MKi in lead as the leader flew in the missing man formation at the Yelanhanka Air Force Station as a tribute to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi who lost his life on Tuesday in a mid-air collision during rehearsal in a Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team's aircraft.
The Hawk jets were performing a manoeuvre in which one aircraft was flying inverted, carrying a pilot, and the other below it with two pilots, moments before they hit each other and spun out of control, according to police and eyewitnesses. Among the three aircrews of the aircraft, Wing Commander VT Shelke and Squadron Leader TJ Singh ejected but Gandhi sustained fatal injuries.
The missing man formation is an aerial salute performed as part of a flypast of aircraft at a funeral or a memorial event, typically in memory of a fallen pilot, or a well-known military service member or veteran. A custom observed in the air force of various countries, the flypast in this formation has one aircraft position which is left vacant or a gap between two aircraft in the formation to depict the 'Missing Man'.
In September 2017, three Sukhoi-30 MKIs conducted a flypast in this formation to honour Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh.
Meanwhile, the Surya Kiran jets were to make a comeback after eight years with a nine-aircraft formation. However, due to the mishap, the aircraft will not be participating in the event. Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria told the media on Tuesday, "We had an unfortunate incident and an investigation will take place. Suryakiran won't be a part of display."
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Updated Date: Feb 20, 2019 11:26:58 IST