Sky isn't the limit

Are you fascinated with flying and want to learn about the killer machines that take on the skies? Asha Chowdary talks to ace pilot and TV show host Anthony Nalli about his series, ‘The Aviators’...

Who can resist the lure of a fascinating aviation story? Whether it is a glimpse of some of history’s most noted aerial combats or a close up view of pilots in more recent air battles, it is enough to get the adrenaline pumping and the heart soaring at the beauty of the steel birds that rule the sky. And for all those who have stayed glued to aviation news all their lives, yearned to see the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or wondered what Fifi, the infamous B-29 bomber from World War II was like, or just love spending hours admiring the curve of beautiful fuselage at your nearest airport — a show like The Aviators will take you to the heart of all the non-stop action and excitement.
In an exclusive interview with Anthony Nalli, presenter, director and producer of The Aviators, the aviation series on world television, which also includes stories on latest aircrafts, the coolest technology and the best fly-in destinations, the former pilot-
turned-producer speaks about his love for aviation and where it all began for him.

Love for wings

Anthony begins by introducing the latest stories for the new season. “We are going to go into areas that we previously haven’t done and we are going to learn a lot of new things ourselves. The third season will focus on popular subjects like military aviation. We are spending more time with a broad range of military aircraft — everything from helicopters to fighter jets to bomber aircraft and mid-air refuelling,” he says.
Looking back, however, Anthony can trace his love for aviation to his days as a student. “Aviation is something that has fascinated me my entire life,” he explains. “I have always been a student of television as well, so, when this incredibly rare opportunity came for me to marry my passion for aviation and my enjoyment of television, I am the kind of person who likes to jump at it. The result of that move was The Aviators.”

When asked about his favourite aircraft, Anthony is quick to reply, “It’s one that I haven’t flown, but I’ve seen fly... it’s the World War II fighter called the Corsair. I’ve never flown it, but I’ve sat in it, seen it fly and we’ve filmed it.”

Anthony used to write a column during one period of his life, called Close Calls, which proved to be extremely popular during its time. It was all about sharing a pilot’s personal death-defying experiences or his or her most challenging flying expeditions with readers. “The purpose of the column was for co-pilots and young enthusiasts to learn from such dangerous situations and to avoid mid-air accidents,” he explains.
When asked about the most thrilling aspect of flying, Anthony feels it is the heady mix of danger, challenge and skill that pilots and aviation enthusiasts love. He goes on to explain, “Aviation itself is filled with challenges, whether it’s mechanical issues that can arise, issues that may compromise safety — and of course, you never ever want that to happen. Weather situations are obviously going to always be a challenge — whether it’s major weather like a storm or even minor weather like if it’s too windy. If it’s too windy, it might not be dangerous to fly, but I’ll tell you, it sure is tough to film.”
The most exciting episodes that he has produced are so many that Anthony has lost count, but he remembers some of them fondly. “We’ve had members of our crew fly with military jet teams and doing incredible things with them.”

Meditative state

When it comes to his own preferences, he says he loves a bit of calm after all the nerve wracking excitement of his life. “I don’t like doing things that are too strenuous, but I’ll tell you: the most enjoyable trip that I’ve ever done was back in season one when I got to fly in a blimp. It was just so quiet, and peaceful and enjoyable. I really loved it.”

The show has undergone a number of changes over the years and Anthony goes on to explain how it has transformed over time. “Aviation has been around for over a 100 years. Our show has been around for just four years. There are a lot of stories to tell. We cover air shows, the military, commercial aviation and recreational aviation. We cover the good, the bad and the ugly. I mean, sometimes bad things happen, unfortunately. We look at some of the mishaps that occur, and the lessons that we’ve learned from them.”

The show, and producing its various segments, involves including a vast number of people. “On the show we have pilots, we have air traffic controllers — even the hosts of the show are experts themselves. We talk to leading military pilots, the absolute best in the world, as well as leading inventors, air show performers and historians. In short, we look for people that have the best information that they can give us, the best stories to tell, and the most enriching information that they can share with us and our viewers,” he explains.

The world of aviation has changed since the days he flew as a private pilot, but he believes that anyone can fly a plane with some training. “I know that a lot of young Indian men and women are travelling to other countries, such as Canada and the United States, to receive their pilot training,” he says and adds, “I know that in the aviation industry in India, the demand definitely outweighs the supply. But you know, the mechanics of what makes an airplane fly — whether it’s a small two-seater aircraft, or whether it’s a 747 — if you pull back, you go up. If you push down, you descend. If you turn it this way, you go left. If you turn it that way, you go right. Every single airplane that has ever flown, and every single airplane that will ever fly, works the exact same way. The difference is you’ve got a more powerful engine. It’s got more electronics. Flying is not difficult. Mastering it certainly is difficult, but the basics of flying are not difficult. Anyone can do it.”

The Aviators will be aired from Monday to Friday at 8 pm, on Discovery Turbo.

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