Metal birds show their mettle

Wing-Walkers come out with flying colours

Metal birds show their mettle

The symbolism was not lost on anyone. Moments after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a spirited pitch for ‘Make in India’ and formally kicked off the 10th Aero India at the Yelahanka Air Base here on Wednesday, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas took off to make a statement.

Piloted by Group Captain Sudhir Krishna, the Tejas started off with a low-altitude flypast over the dais at 150m, before taking a vertical push and a barrel roll. The message to the watching VVIPs and foreign dignitaries was clear: The IAF’s Final Operational Clearance for the aircraft was close, even if it has taken years to get this far!

Troubled by last-minute contract issues over the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft deal, the French Dassault Aviation’s Rafale fighter jet too had a point to prove. As if on cue, French Air Force captain Planche steered the aircraft to a high-speed mix of rolls and turns at 180 kmph.

His “Namaste India” salvo in Hindi, relayed to all, struck a chord.
But the indigenous thrust was not finished yet. Aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), was back with its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), an agile wearing jet black. Showcasing its versatility through a rapid pull-up and an unconventional reverse flight, the copter stood out starkly.

Yet, none could match what followed next in its sheer drama, spectacle and colour. Balancing on one leg, two women display pilots of the Swedish aerobatic team, Scandinavian Airshow, stood there on the wings of two flying aircraft! They were the Wing-Walkers, a love-at-first-sight occasion for Bengalureans!

Their daredevilry seemed contagious, as the British AeroSuper Batics and Aerowind Services aircraft danced in the air. Flight formations by four Yakovlev aircraft revved up the aerobatic spirit. The finale was just about to unfold.

As the Surya Kirans remained grounded for the second airshow in a row, IAF’s Sarang team had to pitch in big. Led by Wg Cdr Abhinay, Sqn Ldr Milind and six others, the four Dhruv helicopters did exactly that. From its signature Sarang Split to the wine glass to India formations, the Sarangs drew smoke lines in the skies.

The Double Arrow Cross had two helicopters from left and right fly in at low-altitude, and make two crosses in the clear blue sky. Watching from a distance, the illusion of a cross seemed close. The crowd lapped it up all.

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