The life of flight instructor Neeraj Jain (26), whose aircraft crashed on Monday in Subhas Nagar area of Andhra Pradesh, could have been saved if locals had succeeded in pulling him out of the wreckage of the crashed Cessna-152 aircraft.
The aircraft crashed right behind a Ganesh pandal in Subhas Nagar under Sanathnagar police station area and after hearing the noise three persons sitting in the pandal came out only to see the mutilated aircraft lying on the road and a part of it hanging on the roof of a house.
According to the Ganesh Mandal Youth Association convener, V Vinod Kumar, he along with two others rushed to the spot and saw the body of the trainee pilot P Srinivas falling on the ground and an injured pilot Neeraj Jain seeking help to be pulled out.
"As soon as I approached the aircraft, an injured pilot asked to be pulled out saying, "Mereko nikalo, mereko nikalo." (Pull me out, pull me out.) I tried to pull him even as his two legs were trapped beneath a chair, but he was attached to a seat-belt which could not be opened," Vinod Kumar told PTI.
"The petrol leaking from the aircraft caught fire engulfing the aircraft and despite our attempts, we could not save Neeraj," he said.
Meanwhile, some colleagues of Neeraj said he had tried to land the aircraft in a nearby ground to ensure minimum casualties.
Neeraj avoided a four-storey building, but one of the wings of the aircraft touched an electric pole resulting in the aircraft losing control and taking a sudden turn, a colleague of Neeraj said.
Neeraj had last month cleared the Instrument Flight Rating exams enabling him to be promoted to a full-fledged instructor and to fly aircrafts during night hours, Ashish Agarwal, another colleague said.
He was a very good instructor and had joined AP Aviation Academy in January 2008, Santosh Kumar, his room-mate said.
Meanwhile, sources said this two-seater aircraft had an Emergency Locator Transmitor attached to it which automatically gives signals to the nearest Air-Traffic Control tower at Begumpet airport.
"It continuously gives signals to ATC, even if the aircraft receives severe damages or if it falls somewhere enabling the ATC to locate the aircraft," sources said.
Neeraj might have given a 'May Day' alert (aircraft in emergency) to ATC just before the aircraft crashed, sources said adding what transpired during those moments are recorded with ATC Begumpet.
The aircraft had 144 litres of fuel in its tanks when the tragic incident took place, they said.
A team from director general of civil aviation from Delhi will investigate the incident and more details can be divulged after that, they added.