Squadron leader Samir Abrol’s family said that though he had flown several aircraft such as Sukhoi-30, Tejas, Hawks and Jaguars, but the Mirage 2000 was special to him

Squadron Leader Samir Abrol and his co-pilot Siddharth Negi were killed after their Mirage 2000 aircraft crashed in Bangalore on February 1, 2019 while on a test sortie

Thirty two-year-old Indian Air Force (IAF) squadron leader Samir Abrol had a special liking for the French aircraft Mirage 2000, which is flown by the IAF. Abrol, with co-pilot squadron leader Siddharth Negi, 31, were killed as their Mirage 2000 aircraft crashed Friday morning while on a test sortie at the old Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Airport in Bangalore.

Samir, who is from Ghaziabad, was cremated with full honours at the Hindon cremation ground on Sunday morning. His father, Sanjeev Abrol, who runs a water purifier business in the city, said his family is not from a defence background but his son had shown an inclination to join the defence forces ever since he was a child. The family resides in Gandhi Nagar.

“Samir was very interested in fighter planes and their acrobatics ever since he was a child. He had filled up admission forms for the National Defence Academy (NDA), engineering and other services even before he had appeared for his class 12 examinations. He cleared the NDA first and the entrance exam results were declared three days after his class 12 result was announced, in May, 2004,” he said.

A student of Ryan International School in Ghaziabad, Samir went on to join the NDA. “We asked him if he can wait for results of other entrance exams but he was adamant on joining the NDA. He had a special liking for the aircraft, which is a single-seater one. He used to tell me that he wishes to fly alone and measure the skies in his Mirage. He had said it was a wonderful feeling to be in a Mirage 2000, flying above the skies,” Sushma Abrol, Samir’s mother, said.

His family said he had flown several aircraft such as Sukhoi-30, Tejas, Hawks and Jaguars, but the Mirage 2000 was special to him.

“It was the best of the lot which he loved. He would hardly be off from work and resumed office midway even as his younger brother’s wedding ceremonies were underway in December, 2017. My last dialogue, a video chat, with him was on the evening of January 30. He told me that he had been concentrating on his work and had no time to visit home. He was so attached to his work that on an earlier occasion, he came to Delhi twice but went without meeting us here in Ghaziabad,” his father said.

Samir was the elder of two brothers. His younger brother Sushant is a fashion designer. Through a friend, Samir had met Garima and both had tied the knot in 2015. “Garima is from Punjab. She is a physiotherapist. Samir always motivated her to make a name for herself. She is also a Zumba instructor now,” Sushant said.

However, things went wrong for the happy family as a newly upgraded IAF Mirage 2000 TI aircraft (2-seater) crashed, killing both pilots on a test sortie. They both were attached to the aircraft and systems testing establishment and the crash occurred during a “take off roll” within the periphery of the HAL airport.

The Mirage 2000 has time and again proved its mettle, especially during the 1999 Kargil conflict with Pakistan. The aircraft, with Abrol and Negi on-board, was an upgraded version.