India loses more than 1,500 army personnel every year without going to war. Every time there is a report, we read the news in the papers, witness the rage on social media, watch the TV debates that go on for a few days on safety and security and then get on with our lives. Though the death of the two pilots, squadron leaders Samir Abrol IAF and Siddharth Negi IAF in yesterday’s Mirage 2000 fighter jet crash in Bengaluru completely shook us.
Both the Air Force pilots were flying a test sortie on a recently upgraded Mirage-2000 trainer aircraft when it crashed. The aircraft was on a customer acceptance sortie after being upgraded by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. While they managed to eject, but their parachutes caught fire and they landed in the debris. One of them succumbed to the injuries on the spot, and the other pilot breathed his last in the hospital.
Samir was an active member of the frequent-flyer community as well, although he had his style of getting on a plane. We had the honour of meeting him and sharing a drink with him at the Points and Points meet up in Bangalore.
Squadron leader Samir Abrol was from the Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) of the Air Force.
Samir was a long time active member of the LFAL community. He also happened to be the first defence personnel we had met who was entrenched into collecting points and miles, something I always thought people in flying careers never needed to do. Fondly known as Sam, he would frequently comment and share his wisdom with the rest of us as well.
After chatting with him, we learnt about all the travels he was planning with his wife. He had a clear strategy to collect miles and use them, and there was so much to learn from him. He was fond of Air India a lot and was a regular user of the Air India SBI Credit Card.
He was one of the youngest members of the armed forces we had both come across in our daily lives, and he was as passionate about his profession as much as he was about his hobbies and passions. We mourn the loss of a fantastic member of our tribe.
May your soul rest in peace, Samir. It was an honour to meet you, and thank you for everything you have done over the years to make sure we slept in peace.
Shine on you crazy diamond. We salute your spirit and grieve your loss. Our thoughts are with the families of both the pilots.
-Shipra & Ajay