The man and the machine

The man and the machine

High Speed

The man and the machine

There’s a certain thrill in being up close to the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas aircraft. After all, it is the real Indian stuff. And lending more power and demonstrating its capabilities to the hilt is its pilot Group Capt (Retired) Suneet Krishna, who even after 23 years in service, still confesses that he feels the adrenalin rush whenever he gets Tejas off the ground.

After a quick daily inspection, which involves a mechanical and electrical check, Suneet boards the aircraft and before take-off, gives all the required signals for the engine start and data recording unit. Then comes the signal for unplugging the ground connection and finally before take-off, the chalks are pulled out and Suneet signals a thumbs up to say he is ready to soar.

Talking to Metrolife as soon as he landed after his first display for the day on Friday morning, Suneet says, “It’s the same feeling as when I first got started and even after all these years, the excitement still remains. When I sit in the aircraft, just before take-off, I am aware that there are so many people watching me, both admiringly and critically, and the only thought that runs in my mind is to give every flight my best shot.”

Suneet’s eyes instantly brighten up when asked about the capability of the aircraft. “It’s a powerful engine,” he beams. Suneet dubs the sky as his playground. “I just throw myself in the sky and have loads of fun up there,” he smiles. Of all the manoeuvres, the ‘Vertical Charlie’, ‘Barrel Roll’, ‘Vertical Loop’ and ‘Inverted Passes’ are what I enjoy the most,” he shares. However, he also points out that the most challenging part is to slow down after flying at a high speed. “The low-speed pass is when the aircraft flies really low after a spell of high speed. This is to demonstrate the critical combat capability of the aircraft and the spectrum of speed,” he explains. Suneet has flown the MiG and Mirage 2000 before handling the Tejas.

Just like any other pilot, Suneet rehearses all the moves in his mind before a flight.
“There’s no room for any error and you have to plan the entry and exit in your head and be clear about the sequence of the manoeuvres,” he notes.

Suneet’s daughter is writing her class 10 exams this year but still makes time to watch her father soar. “She has grown up watching me fly and never loses a chance to brag about her father,” Suneet concludes.