The Aero India 2019 started with a 'missing man' formation by Tejas, Jaguar and Sukhoi 30 aircraft to pay homage to Indian Air Force Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who lost his life during a practice session for the show on Tuesday.
Sahil had died after two BAE Systems Hawk trainer jets belonging to Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team of Indian Air Force crashed mid-air near Yelahanka Air Force Station.
The missing man formation was done by Tejas, Jaguar and Sukhoi 30 aircraft with an empty space in between for their leader signifying a departure of one of their own.
According to IANS, the missing man formation is done to pay tribute to a fallen member. It first began to pay tribute to Charles "speed" Holman when he died during a flight in the 1930s.
The Indian Air Force has announced that Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team would not be participating in the five-day air show. The Surya Kiran team said that they 'lost a buddy', the IAF lost a professional and the nation lost a hero.
The air show was inaugurated by Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with Karnataka CM HD Kumaraswamy and Union Aviation Minister Suresh Prabhu.
The five-day air show is divided into five themes. The first day is the inaugural day. Day two and three are startup days, day four is women's day when the aircraft will be piloted by a women-only staff. The air show will conclude on the fifth day with the public day.
In an interview with Deccan Herald two years back, Sahil had said, "This aircraft (Hawk Mk 132) is intrinsically electronic in nature. This not only makes maintaining it a challenge but also more susceptible to failure."