All about air CRAFT
The IAF air show in the city is a major crowd-puller. R. K. RADHAKRISHNAN reports
What's common to tigers, cobras, rhinos, yaks, bulls, panthers, hawks and tiger sharks?
Pretty much nothing, if you discount the fact that these are nicknames of a few of the Indian Air Force squadrons spread across the country.
The Air Force personnel came to town a few days ago bringing with them fighter planes that we have seen in movies, a host of weapons that the `birds' carry, the large transport planes and helicopters. The reason? They felt that we here did not appreciate them enough. This despite the fact that the man who orders everyone else around in the Air Force, Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy, speaks Tamil.
The IAF displayed its state-of-the-art fighter aircraft at the Meenambakkam Old Airport, the once-upon-a-time busy hub, that now plays host to an occasional VIP event. Seeing is believing, goes the saying. So, the Air Force managers thought that they would tell the Chennai youth about their typical day in office.
Much before the scheduled opening time of 9 a.m., on Sunday, a long expectant queue had gathered in front of Gate 6 at the airport. Chennai-ities had reason to be excited: this was the first time that the `birds' were displayed here. It seemed that many people, families in tow, decided to celebrate Lord Ganesha's birthday with a darshan of India's air prowess.
Most of the operational Indian fighter and transport aircraft were on show.
As the gates opened, Air Force personnel, who had planned the event to its last detail and had a `dry run' earlier to identify areas where things could go wrong, conducted people around the venue. "We have done such shows before in the East and the Western parts of the country. We have done two similar shows in Hyderabad," said the IAF Training Command chief, B.K.Pandey.
Through the day as enthusiastic people milled around, the only problem that the men in blue faced was to keep the queue moving: people tended to stop at the sight of the `birds' they thought they knew a wee bit about.
"That's the one that George Fernandes flew in," one eager parent pointed in the direction of a MiG-21. His son, all of 12 years, did not seem impressed. "Will they take me on a ride too," he asked.
The Air Force officer nearby told them it would not be possible. The `g' forces (gravitational) would make it difficult for anyone other than a trained pilot to `hang on' and control the aircraft as it twists and turns. "As the pilot manoeuvres the aircraft at very high speeds, the force acting on him is so huge that an untrained person would find it difficult to even lift his or her arm," he explained.
Quite a few people `locked on' to the Su 30 MK, the latest of Indian fighters, which `migrated' for the special season from distant Pune's Lohegaon air base.
As people walked through the 60-odd aircraft and logistics equipment, Air Force men were busy distributing leaflets detailing norms for entry into the force. The force is looking for a larger pool to choose from, and they are looking for more techies since most warplanes these days have an array of computers on board.
Only about two to three per cent of the force currently comes from Tamil Nadu. With 240-odd engineering colleges in the State, it is certainly a region to be tapped.
Join the fly-by
HEAD FOR the Marina at 10 in the morning on September 6. And look skyward.
The Indian Air Force is showing off its power and punch to the Chennai residents, including Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
The show commences with two Chetak helicopters showering flower petals on the VIPs and the audience, followed by three Chetak helicopters flying the Tri-colour and the IAF insignia.
Following this `ceremony,' nine HPT-32 aircraft will fly in three `vic' formations of three aircraft each. This would be followed by a `small boy' formation an AN-32 sandwiched between two Dorniers.
Then comes the flypast by the Kirans, the Iskaras, the Jaguars, the Su-30s and MiG-29 in rapid succession. The highlight would be a dogfight over the Marina. In a simulated air raid over the Beach, two MiG-29s would be intercepted by two Su-30s in a mock combat.
The Suryakiran formation flying team and the Akash Ganga skydivers will bring up the grand finale.
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