‘Heart display’ special this year

‘Heart display’ special this year

The Sarang helicopter formation team, performing at Aero India, has practised some exciting new moves, says its leader.

The Sarang team, with four helicopters, creates spectacular aerobatic formations.

The Sarang helicopter display team is known for its jaw-dropping manoeuvres. The four-aircraft team is bringing some surprises to the Aero India show this year. In an interview with Metrolife, Wing Commander Ashish Sudhir Moghe talks about what sets the team apart.

Sarang has inducted a woman pilot for the first time. How does it add to the dynamics of the team?

All pilots in the Sarang team are volunteers. The team selects candidates from among applicants. All pilots, men or women, are thoroughly tested for aptitude, skill and temperament. It is a matter of pride. The team hopes all capable women of our country take inspiration from Squadron Leader Sneha and aspire to join the Air Force. 

Tell us about the new manoeuvres you have added this year.

One of the most anticipated is the heart manoeuvre in which two helicopters create a heart in the sky with a smoke trail.

What are the challenges faced during formation flying?

Formation flying in itself is highly demanding. It requires a lot of anticipation and fortitude. To add to the challenge, a helicopter is inherently highly unstable. It takes a great degree of hand-eye coordination and absolute faith in your fellow formation members to come out with an entertaining display.

We operate our machines at the very edge of our limits, and this requires years of rigorous training.

What binds the team together?

Being a team of volunteers, members are the proverbial ‘Birds of a feather...’ We are all driven by our common goal of ‘inspiring through excellence’. Being in a formation makes us look out for one another and anticipate others’ responses. We are, in the true sense, a family.

Could you talk about the toughest displays you have done so far?

Every display venue comes with its own peculiarities and challenges. In terms of difficulty, any venue with strong winds proves challenging, since a helicopter is easily affected by it.

How do you ensure maintenance is not compromised?

Maintenance is carried out according to standard operating procedures by highly skilled and well-trained technicians.

What does the team do together when it is not flying? Any common interests like books, music, long rides?

Every team member has his or her own hobbies and interests to pursue. While most of us prefer hitting the gym whenever possible, others turn to photography, reading or golf to get away from the routine. As most of us like travelling and exploring, we make sure there is at least one outing whenever we go for a display.

What is the mood like before a display?

The team is upbeat and everyone sports a smile. We focus on the task at hand as well. A thorough briefing is given by the team leader. The team wants to put up a good show every time and this is the primary thought in everybody’s mind.


Flying high with pride

Wing Commander Sachin Anand Gadre, who leads the Sarang helicopter display team, told Metrolife, says every pilot involved in formation flying needs to be “at the top of his game.”

Every venue presents its own peculiarities, and pilots need to overcome them by practising individually and collectively, he says.

“I have a set of highly trained and motivated pilots, technicians and support staff in my unit who take immense pride in the work we do.

Every individual sets out to ensure that no effort is spared to make the display a grand success,” he says.