'Precision is our strength'

'Precision is  our strength'

The members of the ‘Sarang’ team were a favourite among the crowd at the recently-concluded ‘Aero India 2015’. Constantly surrounded by people, who either wanted a glimpse of them or a picture with them, the team was proud to be associated with the world’s most prestigious air crew. The ‘Sarang’ team members are known for their inimitable manoeuvres, which they never tend to repeat.

An immense amount of planning goes into the manoeuvres before the execution. None of the manoeuvres are spontaneous. They are first tested on a simulator and then executed and the experimentation never ends. Wg Cdr PR Ponnappa, one of the youngest members of the crew, recalls how he thought the ‘Sarang’ was definitely the showstopper at one of the shows he had attended. “I had set my eyes on joining the team and began working towards it. The selection process for the team is the toughest in the world. Only the best get in,” he says. 

The team is led by Commanding Officer Wg Cdr AS Abhyankar, who is a qualified flying instructor.
Talking from his many years of flying experience, he says that the boys have a lot of fun up in the skies. “Of course, it’s a stressful job and there is no compromise on precision. But each one of us is proud to be part of a team that believes in discipline,” he says.

Sqn Ldr AS Pawar confesses that it’s a thrilling job because it requires immense amount of skill and planning to get up there and do those stunts. “Every pilot in the ‘Sarang’ team is hand-picked. It is always a challenge to live up to that reputation. Precision is our strength,” he says.

The team has its share of women as well. Wg Cdr Bhavana Mehra, the team administrator, also does the commentary for the displays.

She was with ‘Suryakiran Aerobatic Team’ for many years before joining ‘Sarang’. “Commentary is no easy job. You have to be ready to tweak your commentary according to the change in manoeuvres. It’s a challenge for women to prove themselves,” feels Bhavana.  

The members of the team live together with their families in Sulur, Coimbatore. A few of the wives even travelled with the team members to the Aero Show.

Latha Saravanavel, wife of Wg Cdr S Saravanavel, says, “Initially, when I saw the ‘Sarang Split’, I was shocked but I calmed down after I was taken through the process. We are proud of the team.”
Umeshwari, wife of Sqn Ldr AS Pawar, says that the families celebrate almost all the festivals together and sometimes test their skills at the many cookery classes they hold. “We live in a gated community and apart from celebrating all the festivals, we also have cookery competitions and learn a lot of from each other,” she says. Dr Vaishali, wife of Sqn Ldr  Milind Londhe, says she really enjoyed the display by Tejas. “The families are so close that we literally look out for each other. It’s a great bond we share,” she adds.

Aarohi Abhyankar, wife of Wg Cdr AS Abhyankar, observes that their residence station in Sulur is a secure place. “Our husbands are travelling most of time but we don’t really feel out of place, thanks to the close bond we share. The many pot luck outings, celebration of birthdays and anniversaries keep us busy,” she concludes.

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