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Prominent personalities who perished in the air

Bipin Helicopter accident
(Shankar Raj, Bengaluru)
In a military chopper crash on Wednesday, Dec 8, 13 out of 14 personnel including Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat lost their lives. The Indian Air Force helicopter crashed in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor. Apart from General Rawat, his wife, and 12 others were onboard.
General Rawat had survived a helicopter crash some six years ago too. Rawat was in a Cheetah helicopter that crashed in Dimapur, Nagaland on February 3, 2015. He was a lieutenant general at that time.


The Indian Air Force helicopter with General Bipin Rawat on board that crashed on Wednesday belonged to the 109 Helicopter Unit based at the Sulur airbase near Coimbatore. The helicopter was a Mi-17 V5 variant, which is one of the latest versions of military transport helicopters available around the world and part of the Mi-8/17 series of Russian origin.


The Copter is a make of Russia
The Indian government had awarded a contract to Russian manufacturers for 80 MI-17 V5 helicopters in 2008 at a cost of US dollar 1.3 billion. While the first of these were delivered to India in 2013, the final batch came in 2018.
The helicopter has many variants, including a 36-seat one for carrying troops, for cargo transport and a version with an emergency floatation system. It is operated by a three-member crew, including a pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. The single-rotor helicopter, with the rotor on the tail, has a dolphin type nose, additional starboard sliding door and a portside widened sliding door.
Can travel 250km per hour
It can gain a maximum speed of 250 km per hour and a cruise speed of 230 km per hour. While its main fuel tanks’ range is 675 km, with two auxiliary fuel tanks it can fly for 1,180 km. It can carry a maximum payload of 4,000 kg.
Here are other famous personalities who lost their lives in air crashes:


Despite controversy behind the cause of death, it is a popular belief that freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose died in an air crash in 1945 in Taiwan.

Sanjay Gandhi, the younger son of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was killed in 1980 when a glider he was flying crashed after taking off from the Safdarjung airport in Delhi.


Punjab Governor Surendra Nath and nine members of his family were killed when the government’s Super-King aircraft crashed into high mountains in bad weather in 1994 in Himachal Pradesh. Nath was then also the acting Governor of Himachal.


Senior Congress leader, Madhavrao Scindia was killed in a Cessna aircraft crash in 2001 while travelling to Kanpur to address a rally.


Lok Sabha Speaker and Telugu Desam leader G.M.C. Balayogi also died in a chopper crash in 2002 in Andhra Pradesh.


O.P. Jindal, Haryana’s then power minister and a leading industrialist, and state agriculture minister Surendra Singh were killed when their chopper developed a technical snag and went down near Saharanpur in 2005.


Another air accident was the crash of a helicopter in which Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was onboard. The chopper of YSR crashed in a forest while flying in a Bell 430 to Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh. His body was traced 27 hours after the helicopter went missing in 2009.


Five days after the helicopter that he was using went missing, Arunachal Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu was found dead near the China border in 2011. (Author is a senior journalist from Bengaluru.

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