An Indian Air Force MiG-21 Bison fighter jet crashed in an open field at Langeana Nawan village in Punjab’s Moga district late on Thursday night, killing its pilot.
The deceased was identified as Squadron Leader Abhinav Choudhary. A local police team and IAF officials from Bathinda and Halwara Air Base reached the spot and after an intense search of around four hours, the pilot’s body was recovered nearly 2 km away from the crash site.
Moga (HQ) SP Gurdeep Singh told The Indian Express, “The pilot’s parachute was found open and an SOS was also sent from his device to the IAF… He tried to land safely using the parachute but apparently broke his neck and spinal cord. IAF officials from Bathinda and Halwara had reached the spot and around 3 am, the body was recovered.”
Singh said, “As per IAF officials, the jet had taken off from Suratgarh in Rajasthan for Jagraon (in Ludhiana) for night training purpose. The pilot was returning to Suratgarh when it crashed in Moga.”
The official Twitter account of the Indian Air Force posted, “There was an aircraft accident last night involving a Bison aircraft of IAF in the western sector. The pilot, Sqn Ldr Abhinav Choudhary, sustained fatal injuries. IAF condoles the tragic loss and stands firmly with the bereaved family.
“A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain the cause of the accident,” the IAF posted.
Choudhary did his schooling from Meerut and Dehradun, before enrolling at Indian Military Academy. He went on to join the Air Force Academy near Hyderabad, and from 2014 onwards, had been posted at the Pathankot Air Force Base.
Married in December 2019, Choudhary’s wife Sonika had recently returned from France, where she had been pursuing a course.
Meanwhile, in Meerut, Choudhary’s father Satyendra clutched a wrinkled t-shirt belonging to his son, which bears the Indian Military College insignia. “This piece of clothing belongs to my son. I will wear this because this is all that remains. I lost my son. Everything is over, destroyed,” he said.
According to the family, Choudhary had urged his father to quit his job as a builder as he was confident he would be able to sustain the family financially.
“He was supposed to come back to Meerut on leave but I told him he would be safer there… Early Friday morning, I received a call and they told me there was a crash and they are looking for my son. Hours later, they confirmed he is no more,” said Satyendra.
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