Their proximity to the Hindon air base meant that residents of east Delhi's Shastri Park were used to planes passing over their homes almost every day. But never in their dreams had they thought that one of those planes would land near their home.
The unbelievable happened on Sunday morning when a two-seater Indian Air Force (IAF) microlite was forced to make an emergency landing at a park surrounded by tightly-packed residential buildings.
Thankfully, the pilot managed to stop the small plane from crash landing on one of the buildings. He had just two minutes to land after the engine developed a snag mid air when the plane was at a height of 1,000 feet.
No one was hurt in the incident and a police team along with fire tenders were immediately rushed to the spot.
"We left from Hindon at 8.30am and at 10:26 am we detected the snag. We immediately informed the air traffic controller at Hindon that we were force landing in a residential area. We knew we did not have much time and luckily noticed a big ground nearby. As it was a Sunday, we could see children playing in the ground. We somehow managed to land at the edge of the park," said the pilot, who was unwilling to disclose his name.
Though the plane required space to run for few metres after landing, the pilot managed to stop it from crashing into a wall.
"It was a microlite of NCC which carried out a precautionary landing due to a technical snag," said an IAF spokesperson. The microlite is generally used for training National Cadet Corps (NCC). The Air Force had a full dress rehearsal on Sunday for IAF day and the plane had been sent to check for birds in the air space.
Curious onlookers soon surrounded the plane and police were forced to cordon off the area. "I have only seen planes in the air. Now that I have chance to see it closely, the police are not allowing me to go near it," 80-year-old Shanti Devi complained.
Air Force engineers dismantled the plane and took it back in a truck. "We will examine the plane at the air base. There was no problem in the maintenance as the pilot had been flying it for the past two-and-a-half years," said one of the engineers.