Monath bids his last farewell
He, who braved the skies since 2007, could not touch the ground on
this fateful day as usual after the ill-fated training mission. Making
the entire nation grieve, he was a youth who always aspired to do his
duty towards the nation-Monath bid his last farewell yesterday.
Monath Erash Perera
There were swathes of banners wishing the young hero a good life in
his next birth. The country lost another hero who helped to save the
lives of thousands of innocent Tamils who were kept as hostages by the
He was fortunate and brave to escape death during the height of the
war against terrorism. He had many dreams after he completed his mission
- destroying the LTTE. But fate had taken all those dreams away.
“I don’t have anything now. Why has this happened to my son, he is my
only child”, mother - Kumari Sumathipala - cried repeatedly.
A picture of the handsome young officer with a charming smile hangs
on the wall near the coffin which was sealed. His father M. Chandrasena
Perera looked on unable to bear the grief.
It was on March 1st at 9.10 am that the two pilots took off to
perform their difficult flypast training mission to display their
aerobatic talents the next day at the colourful ceremony of the 60th
Anniversary of the Sri Lanka Air Force.
There were over 40 different flights decorating the clear blue sky
that morning. The breathtaking sight sounded fearful with the roaring
sounds from two Kfir fighter jets of the 10 Jet Squadron of the SLAF.
But sounds of Kfirs lasted for less then 20 minutes and then what
people saw was a large ball of fire. The mobile alerts flowed first
saying that the two pilots were safe. The unfortunate news about the
death of one of them came hours later.
Later the SLAF confirmed that Flight Lieutenant Monath Perera died in
the accident, in which the two Kfirs collided in the fly pass training
exercise at Yakkala, in the Gampaha district. Squadron Leader Vajira
Jayakody who was ejected from the Kfir was hospitalized with minor
Flypast training exercise
Initially the SLAF said the accident occurred during the flypast
training exercise when the two fighter jets were flying at a speed of
around 900 kph in a close formation and the wings had touched when
taking a turn.
However, the SLAF is tight lipped as the investigation into the
accident is on-going. The Sunday Observer spoke to Monath’s best friend
From the day Charitha was admitted to grade 1-D of Mahinda College
Galle, he was Monath’s best friend until his untimely death.
“ I will never get a friend like Monath”, his voice quivers.
Recalling their school days, Charitha said Mahinda College won the
sixth place at the annual competition held at the Rantambe Cadet School
in 2000 under the leadership of Monath, who was the Cadet Sergeant of
“ Apart from studies, he participated in extra curricular activities.
He was in the basketball team and English drama society. He was the
Deputy Head Prefect of the school”, he says.
Being an Audit Assistant Charitha, met his best friend rarely during
the government’s humanitarian operation as Monath was engaged in air
“ He never talks about the targets he took. He said he was so proud
as he had taken many accurate targets but he never revealed any”,
According to Charitha, Monath always told his friends to find a job
which could give job satisfaction and also a job that serves the nation.
“ I think his happiest day was the day he successfully took the
target to destroy LTTE armoury in Pudukudiyrippu. That day he spoke to
me and told me the location and the target. It brings back vivid
Fly Israeli built Kfirs
Born in 1982, Monath Erash Perera joined the SLAF in 2004. He was
commissioned as a Pilot Officer in 2005 and promoted as a Flying Officer
in 2007, January. Monath first flew the K-8 fighter jets, moved to F-7
in the No. 5 Jet Squadron and then joined the No. 10 Attack Jet Squadron
to fly the Israeli built Kfirs.
He had completed 450 flying hours and done 75 operational sorties
during the humanitarian operation.
Flight Lt. Monath was promoted posthumously to the rank of Squadron
Leader cause of his contribution to the humanitarian operation.
The SLAF Commander Air Marshal Harsha Abeywickrema appointed a
five-member committee to probe the incident.
According to SLAF spokesman Group Captain Andrew Wijesooriya the
Committee headed by Air Vice Marshal Kapila Jayampathi would submit its
final report in 14-days. Wijesooriya, who refused to disclose further
details of the incident as the investigation was going on, said the
committee had commenced its investigations from the day the incident
took place and it would look into the causes of the accident.
The report by the Judicial Medical Officer Dr. Channa Perera revealed
that Monath’s death was due to a heart attack which had occurred after
he ejected from the jet.
The report was handed over to the SLAF Commander.
Refusing to comment on the JMO report, SLAF Commander Air Marshal
Abeywickrema said Monath was in good health and his death was due to the
The SLAF spokesman said all Air Force pilots undergo annual medical
check-ups and a doctor would check pilots after each sortie.“Monath was
in good health and fit for flying”, he said.The Kfir, Israeli-built
all-weather, multi-role combat aircrafts, with a maximum speed of 2.440
kph, are fighter jets of the Sri Lanka Air Force No. 10 Fighter Squadron
which was established in 1996.
The Kfir jets played a vital role by providing offensive support for
ground troops during the humanitarian operation in 2009.
All Kfir fighter jets of the SLAF have been grounded until the
investigation into incident is over.
According to sources the estimated loss of the two Kfir jets is over
US $ 10 million.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who rushed to the crash site had
instructed the SLAF to meet the funeral expenses.
Addressing the nation on March 2 at the SLAF celebrations the
President paid his condolences to Monath’s family and said lives like
those of Monath was more valuable than expensive military assets.
“We should never forget the airmen who sacrificed their lives and
also the pilot who sacrificed his life on Tuesday while rehearsing for
the anniversary. Our sympathies go out to his family and all the
families who sacrificed their loved ones to protect the motherland”, he
“ The life of a war hero is more valuable to the nation than a heap
of metal”, the President said.