Trainee pilot dies in plane crash

A single-engine training aircraft flown by a trainee pilot crashed in the Pachmarhi hills of Madhya Pradesh, killing the pilot, on Tuesday.

The Diamond 40 aircraft belonging to Rae Bareli's Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA) had taken off from Gondia's Birsi airport around 12.30 pm on Tuesday and was due to return at 2.45 pm. However, the ATC lost contact with the aircraft after some time. It tried contacting the pilot, but both the aircraft and the pilot remained untraceable. A search plane too failed to trace the missing aircraft on Tuesday. The wreckage of the plane was finally located near Chhindwara in the bordering state on Wednesday.

Chhindwara district police chief Purshottam Sharma said local villagers informed the police about the crash, following which a search was launched.

The body of the pilot, Sohail Ansari (19), was found on Wednesday near Belakhadi in the Pachmarhi hills. Sources said he had become eligible for a solo flight since he had fulfilled the stipulated 80-hour flying criterion.

While it was not immediately known as to what caused the crash, the Chhindwara police said the pilot lost his way due to fog.

IGRUA conducts some of its training flights from Gondia airport in Maharashtra that houses the Rajiv Gandhi National Flying Institute due to better weather conditions there during winters, compared to Rae Bareli. This year, 26 trainees and 10 planes have come to Birsi, bordering MP, for the purpose.

Ansari's family lives in Tadiwala Road, Pune, where his father runs a bakery.

Five months from now, Ansari would have become a commercial pilot. He flew his first solo in Rae Bareli six months ago.

While his father Zahiruddin Ansari, a heart patient, has been in Gondia ever since the news of the aircraft going missing reached him, family members said he had not been informed about the death yet. "He is still missing. The Air Force captain told me not to trust anyone and wait till the black box of the aircraft is found," Zahiruddin told The Indian Express over the phone.

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