Daring aerobatics by the Surya Kiran jets of the Indian Air Force (IAF) delighted thousands of people at the Aero India 2019 air show at the Yelahanka air base here on Saturday.

Led by Group Captain Grover, the seven Surya Kirans also flew in an ‘incomplete diamond’ formation as a tribute to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi who died in the mishap on Tuesday when the two jets were doing a mirror image stunt in which the margin of error is very low.

“The Surya Kirans were checked thoroughly for any mechanical default before flying. It is a tradition of the IAF to go ahead with the display even in the event of an accident to keep the spirit, ethos and motivation of the squadron high,” an IAF official told IANS on the occasion.

Though the IAF had decided that the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) would not be part of the display at the five-day air show following the death of a pilot when two Surya Kiran jets collided in the air and crashed while rehearsing near the base on February 19, the awesome feats by its 7 Hawk jets enthralled the audience that flocked to the venue on the fourth day.

Wing Commander V.T. Shelke and Squadron Leader T.J. Singh ejected from the crashing jets and were airlifted to Air Force Command Hospital in the city.

The twin aircraft were Hawk advanced jet trainers and part of the nine-aircraft SKAT, which displays daredevilry and breath-taking formations.

The British-origin Hawks are made in India by the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). They are used to train rookie pilots in advanced fighter flying skills at the Bidar air base in Karnataka’s northwest region.

Surya Kirans returned to Aero India air show in Bengaluru in 2017 after four years.

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