Surya Kiran pilot who survived crash meets his guardian angel in hospital

Around 8 pm on Thursday, Chethan received a call from an unrecognised number and was surprised to know that it was Akash Shelke, the older brother of Wing Commander Vijay Shelke.

Published: 23rd February 2019 06:46 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2019 02:59 PM   |  A+A-

Vijay Shelke

Wing Commander Vijay Shelke (in blue shirt) and his family meet Chethan Kumar (second from left) at a hospital in Bengaluru on Friday. (Photo

Express News Service

BENGALURU: It was a firm, comforting clasp that blossomed into an emotional bond. Days after surviving a horrific mid-air crash, Surya Kiran pilot Wing Commander Vijay Shelke on Friday got to meet the youth who had held on to his hand, all the while reassuring him as he lay on the ground that fateful day, waiting for help to arrive.

“It’s been three days since the incident, but I still can’t forget that shivering hand which held on to mine so tight that I still feel the grip. Anyone in my place would have probably done what I did, just be there to support him morally. But his desire to meet me and express gratitude shows how nice a human being he is,” said Chethan Kumar, the 22-year-old aeronautical engineering student who was called by Wing Commander Vijay and his family to the hospital on Friday.

Around 8 pm on Thursday, Chethan received a call from an unrecognised number and was surprised to know that it was Akash Shelke, the older brother of Wing Commander Vijay Shelke. “I was really surprised when I got to know that Vijay Shelke wanted to meet me,” an excited Chetan told TNIE.

Chethan met with hugs from pilot’s family

Chethan had become the talk of the town after a video of him comforting the injured pilot had gone viral. Clasping Vijay’s hand, Chethan had kept reassuring him saying, “Stay calm sir, stay calm. They are coming.” Vijay and his family were overwhelmed by Chethan’s gesture and met him at the Air Force Command Hospital where he is still being treated for a foreign particle in his left eye.

“My brother wanted to thank the boy and remembered every bit of that incident. He himself walked out of the ICU to hug the boy and his friends who were very supportive that day,” said Akash, thanking Chethan for the moral support he lent to his brother.

Chethan and his friends were received with hugs and smiles by the family. “They were very nice to us. They even invited us to their hometown once sir recovers,” Chethan explained. He said the pilot, who still looked shaken, had a lot of love and gratitude for him. “He came walking out of the ICU to meet me and my friends,” he said.

Incidentally, Chethan had interned with HAL for about one-and-half months last year on the Hawk project. He said he couldn’t believe that he had seen a Hawk turn into ashes with pieces strewn all over in just a few metres away from where he lived. 

A contractor carrying out clearing work on behalf of the organizer was reportedly slapped by the Chief Administration Officer of the Yelahanka air force station without any provocation. The contractor has given a written complaint about the issue to HAL and they plan to take up the matter with the Director General of Civil Aviation.

The officer could not be reached for comment. Security staff had also torn off the parking stickers on a few cars of exhibitors which ensured they could not park their cars at the venues on the subsequent days, a source said. 

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was reportedly put-off on the first day of the inauguration when the air-conditioner in the room allotted to her in the Chalet (VIP area) did not work.  The sight of uncleared garbage at many points also did not go down well.

An official said, “With workers not given passes to enter the premises the previous night and also made to wait outside in the morning for hours before given entry passes, they could not reach on time to enter the place to carry out repair jobs, clear garbage or clean toilets.”  

Surya kirans to take to the skies Today
On Saturday, visitors to Aero India will be in for a treat as the Surya Kiran aerobatic team of the Indian Air Force will take to the skies doing what they do best, keeping the crowds enthralled with some daredevil flying.

The team had not flown on the first three days of Aero India after a mid-air collision on Tuesday resulted in the death of a member of their team, Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi and injuries to two others, Wg Cdr V T Shelke and Sqn Ldr T J Singh. Aero India began this year with a tribute to Wing Commander Gandhi and a missing man flying formation was executed in his memory.  


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