Mid-air scare aboard Khadse chopper; lucky to be safe, says Mathkari

BJP leaders flying from Jalgaon, make emergency landing in Pune

A five-seater chopper flying BJP leaders Eknath Khadse, Vikas Mathkari, and Shrikant Bharatiya from Jalgaon to Pune on Friday faced a technical snag leading to a mid-air scare followed by an emergency landing at the Lohegaon airport in Pune.

"We had a narrow escape," Mathkari, the Pune city unit chief of the BJP later said.

Khadse, the leader of Opposition in the Assembly, was on his way to a function organised by BJP corporator Yogesh Tilekar in Kondhwa, when smoke started emanating from the chopper hired from the First Future Air Service Pvt Ltd.

Mathkari said the chopper carrying him and Bharatiya reached Jalgaon from Pune at 1.30pm to pick up Khadse. The three BJP leaders and the two pilots had taken off around 2.05pm from Jalgaon. It was around 2.25pm that smoke started emanating from the cockpit and the pilots called ATC for an emergency landing.

Bharatiya said the pilots, with great difficulty, climbed down from 18,000 feet to 8,000 feet. It was after that all of them felt some relief. Mathkari said that barring the engine, the pilots switched off everything as a precaution.

"The AC was off and there was smoke and we had tears in our eyes. However, the pilots were confident and had prepared us for the emergency landing. Fortunately, everything went smooth," said Bharatiya.

Mathkari said the emergency landing was carried out smoothly and he felt lucky to be safe. They left for Kondhwa after landing and the programme went on as scheduled, said Mathkari. Khadse had been invited to inaugurate developmental works in corporator Tilekar in the area.

"I am at the programme. We had a narrow escape after the aircraft faced a technical problem," he said on Friday evening. Bharatiya said the pilots expressed surprise at the technical glitch and said they had never experienced anything like it in their 40-year career.

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