Pilot killed in Patiala plane crash


A microlight aircraft crashed here on Monday in the Army cantonment area, killing an Indian Air Force pilot and injuring an NCC cadet, an IAF spokesperson said.

Gurpreet Singh Cheema, a Wing Commander with 3rd Air Squadron, died after his plane, the ‘Pipistrel Virus SW 80’ trainer aircraft, crashed soon after taking off from the Patiala Aviation Club airport.

Group Captain Cheema, who was on deputation at an NCC unit here, had been imparting training to the cadets of NCC’s 3rd Air Squadron at the Air Force Station, the spokesperson added.

A cadet, Vipan Kumar Yadav, who was wounded in the crash, has been admitted to a military hospital.

Used to train NCC cadets, a microlight plane has no engine. Once in the air, it flies using heat thermals from the air.

An inquiry has been ordered by the IAF to ascertain the cause of the accident, the spokesperson said.  Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, expressed “deep anguish” over the death of the IAF officer in the aircraft crash.

“Singh mourned the demise of Group Captain Cheema in the crash and prayed to the Almighty to give courage to the bereaved family,” an official spokesperson said.

“He also prayed for the peace for the departed soul,” the spokesperson added.

The chief minister also wished speedy recovery to the injured NCC cadet, undergoing treatment at the Chandigarh Command Hospital.