Nashik: Two pilots killed in chopper crash

Two pilots of Army`s Cheetah helicopter were killed after the chopper crashed into a thickly-populated residential area of the city this morning.

Last Updated: Feb 03, 2011, 00:42 AM IST

Nashik: An Army helicopter crashed
in a residential area here Wednesday killing both its pilots but
there was no casualty on the ground.

The Cheetah helicopter of the Army Aviation Corps
crashed at around 0855 hours at Jachak Nagar, killing both its
occupants-- Captain Bhanu Pratap Gupta and Major Atul Garje,
Army officials probing the crash said.

They said as the chopper crashed in an open space
there was no casualty.

Major Garje and Capt Gupta of Jodhpur Army aviation
base had arrived at the Army`s Combat Aviation Training Centre
at Gandhinagar here two days back and had taken off this
morning for Goa en route Pune. Later they were to fly to
Bangalore for the Aero-India show that kicks off next week,
Army sources said.

Eyewitnesses said the rotor blade of the helicopter
stopped moving mid-air and the aircraft hit the terrace of a
residential building before crashing to the ground.

The bodies of both pilots have been retrieved from the
debris of the ill-fated chopper by the fire service and Army
rescue teams.

"There has been no significant damage to the building
nor is there any civilian casualty," Nashik fire brigade Chief
officer Anil Mahajan said.

Forensic experts from the Army are busy gathering
material from the crash site for an inquiry.

Nashik District Magistrate P Velarasu said there was
no civilian casualty and the helicopter as per the preliminary
investigation crashed due to possible technical failure.

"All we can say is that both the pilots on board are
dead. The helicopter crashed in a civilian area and there is
no civilian casualty. Investigations are on," he said.

The bungalow was locked and its owners, identified as
Bhagwan Trimbak Patil and his wife Meena, a teacher, were out
for work when the mishap occurred.

In 2006, an Army helicopter had crashed close the
Combat Aviation Training Centre, about 4 Km from here, killing
three personnel, while an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) had
gone down in a civilian area at Vadner on Pathardi-Delvali
road last year, but there was no casualty.