Four Naval aircraft in action minutes before one of them crashed at Bowenpally, in Hyderabad, during an airshow as part of the second International Exhibition and Conference on Civil Aviation, Indian Aviation 2010, at Begumpet airport in the city on Wednesday.
A Kiran aircraft of the Sagar Pawan Aerobatic Demonstration Team of the Indian Navy’s aviation arm participating in an aerobatic display to mark the inauguration of the India Aviation 2010 in Begumpet airport crashed into a building in Bowenpally locality on Wednesday morning.
Residents looking at the building where a Naval aircraft crashed during an air show in Hyderabad on Wednesday.
Two pilots died and other civilians, living in the building were hospitalised in a serious condition. Firemen were struggling to control the flames that erupted in the two-storied building into which the aircraft crashed.
Eye-witnesses said the HJT-16 Kiran MK.II trainer aircraft, part of a fleet of four aircraft, spiralled out of control as thousands of horrified spectators watched. The plane crashed into a building near Arya Samaj in New Bowenpally, on the northern parts of the city.
Thick plumes of smoke could be seen emanating from the building.
Crashes into mobile phone tower
The plane crashed into a cell phone tower atop the two-storied building bringing down the tower and the water tank. A Maruti van parked adjacent to the building was totally crushed as the debris fell on it. A house adjacent this building was also damaged.
Eye witnesses said the aircraft rammed into the cell phone tower and broke into flames. They recalled seeing one of the pilots bailing out. Police and Defence authorities have taken over the crash site.
Zeenat, a middle aged home maker, who resides in a portion on the second floor of the building, was out along with her son when the aircraft crashed into the building. She was not sure whether her husband who was supposed to have left for office had done so. Her repeated attempts to call him did not fructify and she suspects that he could have been trapped indoors at the time of the crash.
The two-storied building with a penthouse has nearly 10 portions which are let out by the owner, Loth Mallaiah. The owner lives on the ground floor.
“It was spiralling and then it crashed”
V. Rishi, a final year student of MCA told The Hindu that he was watching the aerobatic display and noticed ‘one of the planes breaking away from the formation. It was spiralling and then it crashed”, a shocked Rishi recalled.
The aerobatic show was to mark the inauguration of India Aviation 2010, the second edition of the international civil aviation exhibition and conference at Begumpet. More than 190 companies including Boeing, Bombardier, Cessna, Beechcraft, Air Bus and Bell are participating in the five-day event.
Hyderabad had hosted the first edition of the exhibition in 2008.
One of two naval aerobatic teams in the world
Formed in 2003, the Sagar Pawan team had last performed at the MiG 29K induction ceremony in Goa on February 19.
It is one of the only two naval aerobatic teams in the world along with the ‘Blue Angels’ of the US Navy and uses four Kiran MK-II trainer aircraft based at the Indian Naval Air Station Hansa in Goa.
In a span of three days, this is the second mishap involving the aerobatic display teams of the Indian armed forces.
On February 27, an ALH Dhruv of IAF’s Sarang helicopter display team crash-landed in Jaisalmer due to loss of power while rehearsing for the Vayu Shakti air show there.
A pilot of IAF’s Suryakiran Aerial Display Team (SKAT), which also flies the Kiran Mk-II aircraft, had met with an accident on January 21, 2009, killing the pilot.
Another Surya Kiran aircraft crashed on March 18, 2006 near its home base in Bidar during a training sortie, killing Wing Commander Dheeraj Bhatia and Squadron Leader Shailender Singh.
In 2010, the IAF has lost two fighter aircraft — a MiG-27 and a MiG-21. Last year, the IAF had recorded 11 air mishaps, of which five involved MiG-21 aircraft.