Air Force officer dies in mid-air parachute mishap | Sunday Observer

Air Force officer dies in mid-air parachute mishap

21 March, 2021

An Air Force officer died on the spot after his parachute got entangled with another parachutist during a training session at Amparai-Uhana yesterday morning, a senior official said. The victim, identified as 34-year-old Manoj Padmathilake was described as an experienced parachutist and was on his maiden free fall jump after the basic training period when the incident took place, Air Force Spokesman Group Captain Dushan Wijesinghe said. The other Air Force officer sustained serious injuries in the incident and is currently receiving treatment in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Ampara hospital.

He added that the incident took place some 50 feet from the ground as the pair was reaching the demarcated drop zone. Earlier, the two had jumped off the aircraft from some 3,500 feet and as they were nearing the drop zone they were caught in a sudden change of wind, he said.

“Apparently, the pair had not expected the change of wind as they had received the all clear prior to making the jump from 3,500 feet”, Capt. Wijesinghe said.

The drop zone is located in the Air Force base in Amparai, he added.

The victim had joined the Air Force as a Cadet Officer from the Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) in September 2008 and was a father of one. Incidentally, yesterday’s fatality was the second in nearly two years.

A soldier attached to the elite Army Special Forces also died when his parachute failed to open shortly after he made a free fall jump from a military aircraft in 2019 in Ampara-Uhana.