Of hyped Knights and ordinary performance

Of hyped Knights and ordinary performance

The first two days of the latest edition of the airshow went without the much-hyped Russian Knights who arrived at the venue the third day to provide a teaser, leaving many in anticipation on the fourth day.

On Saturday, hundreds gathered around the tarmac and other viewing areas, some under shelter and many unprotected. The ZM-1, which has been attracting some attention, being the size it is and the speeds it can touch, flew first. And as the noise in the skies was amplified with the Sukhoi-30, more people gathered.

The Indian Air Force’s Su-30 did its routine manoeuvres with high-speed flypasts and loops before landing. Then it was time for the Flying Bulls, whose ‘Drunken Man’ manoeuvre garnered as much attention as it did in 2011, and it does everywhere else in the world.

Then the anticipated moment. The Knights. Although a large section of the crowd erupted as two of the four Su-27s took off in the Knights’ colour, the overall performance, barring the flares that were new to the show, was ordinary. Even as the two aircraft were yet to hit their maximum speed, the other two took off to form what the team calls the ‘Diamond Formation’.

The first few minutes of the 25-minute display by the Knights gave nothing out of the ordinary for the public, with just a few tight formation turns.

After about 7-9 minutes, the formation finally split for a solo performance, with the three other aircraft flying away from the public area. Then came the ‘Barrel Rolls’, ‘Loops’, and the ‘Vertical Climb’. The solo aircraft then released a set of flares that caught everybody’s attention, including some senior Indian Air Force officers. But that was it.

Following this, the team got back in the same airspace for some high-speed crossovers, and then a formation of two doing a vertical climb to release flares, before finally splitting, leaving the audience wanting more.

The Knights were here all right, but the edge-of-the-seat thrills were missing?

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