Andhra Pradesh has witnessed quite a few scary incidents involving high-profile individuals while they were air-borne. While some were fortunate to emerge unscathed, at least two political careers were abruptly cut short by helicopter disasters.
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy became the latest victim when his Bell-430 helicopter crashed atop a hill in the Nallamala forest area on Wednesday, killing all the five on board. This is the first time in the State’s history, people lost an incumbent Chief Minister in a copter crash.
Seven years ago, Lok Sabha Speaker G.M.C. Balayogi died in a copter crash, due to a technical snag, near a fish pond at Kaikalur in Krishna district while on his way from Bhimavaram in West Godavari district on March 3, 2002. Earlier, on August 21, 1995, the former Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao’s helicopter had to forceland following fuel leak near Thimmirajupeta and K. E. Chinnayipalem villages in Kotanandur of East Godavari district. NTR, like Dr. Reddy, was also on his way to Tekkali in Srikakulam to participate in a direct interaction with the people.
Another former Telugu Desam Chief Minister, N.Chandrababu had his share of anxious moments on nine occasions when his helicopters made emergency landings, once even in the Nallamala forest area.
Dr. Reddy himself experienced technical snags thrice earlier — in 2004 while on his way to Tirupati from Hyderabad, in 2005 during his Warangal district tour and in 2006 while flying from Prakasam district to Hyderabad. On all the occasions, the pilots managed to land the copters safely, but the fourth time proved fatal to Dr. Reddy.
Another copter crash near Bangalore claimed the life of actor Soundarya. She was on her way to Karimnagar on April 14, 2004 to campaign for BJP leader Vidyasagar Rao in the general elections.