Bengaluru, Feb 20: A major tragedy was averted at the 10th edition of Aero India on Thursday, Feb 19 when two aircraft from the aerobatic display team Flying Bulls had a close shave while doing a very difficult loop.
Both the aircraft have been damaged, with the propeller of one broken. A final call on the chances of the team performing will be taken on Friday morning.
According to eye-witness account, the incident occurred during the second aerobatic session, post-lunch, around 3.10 pm. Thousands of people had assembled at the AFS when the incident happened.
"The tail fin of one plane hit the left wing of another causing loss of control. The aircraft leaned on the former and also came in contact with the propeller," a senior Indian Air Force (IAF) official, who witnessed the event said.
"Today's incident happened when the pilots were performing the ‘wing over' manoeuvre," he said.
Flying Bulls lead pilot Radka Machova and her colleague managed to land the planes back on the runway. The runway was inspected immediately and foreign object debris (FOD) removed.
Stunt flying a risky affair
The official said that aerobatic flying is a very risky affair. "Stunt flying has more risks involved and that's something you have to live with," he said.
Speaking to a group of journalists at the Media Centre, Aditya Kumar (28), a witness to the incident, said, "The collision happened when I was taking photos of the show.
Unfortunately, I lost focus and saw them colliding with noise. I saw some pieces of wings flying in the air. Sadly, I lost the focus. I saw the incident, but missed the photo."
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)