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MiG-29 crashes in Ambala, pilot safe
Rahul Das
Tribune News Service

Pilot V Naik being bailed out of MiG-29, which crashed in Ambala on Thursday.
Pilot V Naik being bailed out of MiG-29, which crashed in Ambala on Thursday. — Tribune photo by Neeraj Chopra

Ambala, September 28
A fighter aircraft, MiG-29, of the Indian Air Force crashed in Ambala late this afternoon. There were no casualties.

The fighter aircraft crashed within minutes after take-off from the Ambala airbase. Squadron Leader V. Nair, who was piloting the aircraft, managed to bail out safely. The aircraft crashed in an empty field.

Since 2002, eight fighter aircraft, which have taken off from the Ambala airbase, have crashed.

Today’s air crash took place at about 3.15 pm. The MiG-29, which is said to have been on a routine sortie, was flying towards the Adampur airbase in Punjab when it crashed. The aircrash took place at Saddopur village near the Ambala-Chandigarh highway.

The MiG-29 crashed in an open field close to the Ambala-Chandigarh railway track. The railway track is less than 100 metres away from the crash site. Also, two large residential public schools are located near the crash site. Chaman Vatika and Springfield Public School are located less than a kilometre away from the spot where the fighter aircraft crashed.

Squadron Leader Nair, who managed to eject out of the aircraft, was rushed to Military Hospital in Ambala Cantonment. He is stated to have received some injuries on his back. The pilot is believed to have informed the Ambala airbase that there was some problem with the aircraft and he had to eject out. He bailed out near Khanna Farms.

After Squadron Leader Nair bailed out, the pilotless aircraft headed straight for the open fields. The aircraft was spotted by a group of farm hands working in the field owned by Mr Ram Singh. They raised the alarm.

Mr Ravinder Singh, son of Mr Ram Singh, who was driving a tractor-trailer in his field, was alerted by the hue and cry raised by the farm labourers.

“I was shocked to see the aircraft coming towards me. I was on tractor-trailer. I did not know what to do. On a sudden impulse, I jumped off from the driver’s seat and as soon as I went behind the trailer, the aircraft came and hit the tractor,” a stunned Mr Ravinder Singh said.

“I am safe and I did not suffer any injuries. Also, the farm labourers are safe. The aircraft has caused extensive damage to my tractor with its both front wheels and the axle having been broken. I am grateful to God that I am alive despite such a major incident,” he said. “I noticed smoke coming out of the aircraft when it was flying towards me,” he said.

A labourer working in a nearby field said he saw the aircraft heading towards the fields. “There was a loud noise when the aircraft hit the ground. The aircraft caught fire and the blaze could be seen from a distance,” he said.

The cockpit windshield and another part of the MiG-29 was recovered a short distance away from the crash site.

A visit to the spot showed the MiG-29 had hit the ground with such tremendous force that there was a 20-foot deep crater. The wing spans, underbelly and other parts of the MiG 29 were badly damaged. Fire brigade personnel had to battle the blaze before it could be doused.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ambala, Mr O.P. Langyan, said the civil administration rushed to the spot as soon as they learnt about the aircrash. “We had sent our ambulance, fire brigade and other recovery vehicles,” he said. He added that the pilot was safe.

Air Force officials at the crash site were tightlipped about the cause of the crash. They said the exact cause would only be known after an inquiry. A large number of people had gathered at the crash site. A posse of policemen cordoned off the area to ensure that the Air Force personnel could carry out their investigation. The policemen had a difficult time in keeping curious onlookers at bay.

This is the first incident of air crash in 2006 while there was not a single air crash in 2005. However, before that on May 7, 2004, a Jaguar, which is a deep-penetration strike aircraft, crashed within minutes after it took off from the Ambala Air Force Station. The pilot of the aircraft bailed out safely. The Jaguar aircraft crashed after barely three minutes of flight at Patti Shekhan.

The aircraft crashed a short distance away from habitation at Manmohan Nagar, located close to the G T Road. The pilot of the Jaguar fighter aircraft, Sqn Ldr Tamaskar, bailed out safely.

On April 4, 2004, two Jaguar aircraft of the Ambala airbase had crashed in the valley. The pilots of both the aircraft were killed. Flt Lt Gagan Oberoi and Flt Mayank Mayur died in the air crashes.

On July 22, 2003, a Jaguar crashed within the Air Force Station. The fighter aircraft had crashed while landing. The aircraft broke into two pieces and the aircraft caught fire.

Another Jaguar, which crashed in Dalipgarh, claiming 13 lives in November 2002, was being piloted by Flt Lt Rehani. The pilot managed to bail out.

In April 2002, a MiG-21 crashed near the Vita Milk plant in Ambala City. In the Jaguar crash, which took place in May 9, 2002, the pilot, Flying Officer Pallarwal, was killed. A MiG-21 crashed in Chor Mastpur village in the Naggal area on September 9, 2002. No lives were lost in the incident as the aircraft crashed in the paddy fields. The pilot of the fighter aircraft, Sqn Ldr Rajat Nagia, ejected out of the aircraft.



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