Air force microlight aircraft force-lands, pilots unhurt

February 16th, 2008 - 8:07 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, Feb 16 (IANS) An Indian Air Force (IAF) microlight aircraft landed in a tea garden in Assam minutes after it took off from a fighter base, but both pilots in the aircraft escaped unhurt, officials said. An IAF spokesman said the aircraft took off from the Chabua airbase in Dibrugarh district, about 500 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati, and was just over 10 minutes in the air when it force-landed at the nearby Hathiali tea garden.

“After about 13 minutes from take-off, the engine got cut off and that led the pilots to force-land the aircraft at the tea garden,” Wing Commander Rajeev Sishodia told IANS by telephone from Shillong, the headquarters of the Eastern Air Command.

The two pilots, Wing Commander P. Bagchi and Leading Aircraftman A. Gularia, escaped unhurt.

“The aircraft was on a routine bird reconnaissance sortie to ensure that other flights operating in that route do not get hit by birds,” the IAF officer said.

The area where the aircraft landed was close to a playground where a cricket match was on.

“There was panic in the area and people ran for their lives as they saw the aircraft plummeting down with a big thud,” Niren Munda, a witness, said.

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