Aarey chopper crash: From joyride to tragedy in 5 minutes

Updated: Feb 02, 2018, 16:03 IST | Aparna Shukla and Ranjeet Jadhav

The two passengers took the chopper ride to celebrate their wedding anniversary, but the helicopter crashed in Aarey Colony minutes after they took off, landing them both in the ICU

The crash killed pilot Praful Mishra (in blue) on the spot, while passenger Ritesh Modi is currently in the ICU
The crash killed pilot Praful Mishra (in blue) on the spot, while passenger Ritesh Modi is currently in the ICU

Flying over Mumbai in a romantic helicopter ride was supposed to be the high point of their wedding anniversary, but it turned out to be the lowest point in their lives instead. Brinda Modi (31) and her husband Ritesh (33) got barely five minutes in seventh heaven before the chopper plummeted to the ground, killing their pilot and injuring both of them, along with the flight technician.

Also Read: Chopper crashes at Aarey: Brave locals rescue three, pilot killed

Manish Mishra, son of the deceased pilot Praful Mishra
Manish Mishra, son of the deceased pilot Praful Mishra

The chopper belonged to Aman Aviation, which offers joyrides for Rs 9,000 per couple. The 15-minute ride started from the Juhu aerodrome and the couple flew over the Arabian Sea before the chopper turned around towards Aarey Colony, Goregaon.

5 minutes later...
At that point, just five minutes into the ride, the helicopter developed some technical issues. The pilot was forced to attempt an emergency landing but ended up crashing at an open ground at Filterpada, near Royal Palms.

Around 12.20 pm, they were all rushed to Seven Hills Hospital, where the pilot Praful Mishra was declared dead on arrival.

In the ICU
Brinda and Ritesh had both been pulled out of the wreckage by locals, but by then she had suffered severe burns on the lower half of her body, while Ritesh has sustained severe head injuries. As the couple lay in the ICU, Brinda’s mother was barely able to control her tears. “It was their wedding anniversary today. They had gone for the helicopter ride to celebrate. They have a 2-year-old child,” she told this reporter.

Investigation
The Robinson R44 Astro helicopter was about 20 years old and investigators will now look into whether it was this or some other factor that caused the crash. Shiv Sena leader Ravindra Waikar said, “What has happened is extremely sad and unfortunate. I’m speaking to Aman Aviation, the company managing the helicopters. The helicopter apparently was 20 years old. Proper investigation will be done and action will be taken.”

The owner of Aman Aviation, RN Johri, remained unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts by mid-day. However, an official from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said, “The officials are already present there an are investigating the crash. More officials from the Air Accident Investigation Bureau, under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, will be coming tomorrow.”

Expert speak
Jigar Soni, general manager for Deccan Charters, which maintains private charter aircraft, said, “Every pilot should check all papers and do all necessary checks before flying. But technical problems do happen. The DGCA will also probe whether the aircraft’s maintenance was done properly.”

20 yrs
Age of the chopper

5 mins
Time after take-off when the chopper developed a glitch

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