As a mark of tribute to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who lost his life in Tuesday’s mid-air crash of two Surya Kiran planes in Yehlanka, Bengaluru, the Indian Air Force flew a ‘Missing Man’ formation Wednesday. The formation was led by Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jet and was followed by a slow speed pass by a Rafale in the memory of the deceased Wing Commander.
#MissingMan formation was flown, today, led by Su-30MKI at Yelahanka as a tribute to Wg Cdr Sahil Gandhi, who was martyred during a rehearsal sortie on 19 Feb 19. Followed by a slow speed pass by #Rafale, as a salute to #Braveheart.
‘You will be missed, blue skies to you always’ pic.twitter.com/5ofzzb1Ofx
— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) February 20, 2019
Surya Kiran aerobatics team lost Gandhi on the eve of the biennial Aero India air show’s 2019 edition when two of the nine Hawk Mk 132 aircraft manoeuvred by the team collided mid-air and crashed during a rehearsal for the event’s opening, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
Other two pilots in the second aircraft – Wing Commander Vijay Shelke and Squadron Leader Tejeshwar Singh – managed to eject before the crash.
The missing man formation is technically an aerial salute performed as part of a flypast of aircraft, typically in the memory of a fallen pilot or a veteran. Sometimes, political dignitaries are also honoured by the formation.
On September 18, 2017, a missing man formation was performed by three Sukhoi-30MKI during the funeral ceremony of Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh in New Delhi.