Special Correspondent

Chetak helicopters, Dornier-318 aircraft take part in the exercise

ARAKKONAM: Thousands of school students from villages and towns around Arakkonam thronged the Naval Air Station, INS Rajali, here on Saturday to watch the Navy Mela, organised by the NAS as part of the Navy Week celebrations.

The main attraction was the flypast of Chetak helicopters, Dornier-318 aircraft and TU-142 aircraft.

As soon as the two-day Mela was inaugurated by Commanding Officer Rajiv Mehta in the morning, students made a beeline to the INS Rajali.

All eyes were on the tarmac, a protected area cordoned off from the public, as two Chetak helicopters started moving from the hangar to the runway. About 10 minutes after the takeoff at 12.15 p.m., the helicopters flew low and stood still in the air. A little later, the crowd, mostly students, went delirious, as Dornier-318, used for maritime reconnaissance, roared past over their heads.

One of the two Chetak helicopters later demonstrated a search and rescue operation with a simulated model of an injured person. A helicopter descended low on the runway, picked up the `injured person' and `dropped' him at the same spot a little later. In the evening, the public watched a similar display by the Dornier-318 and TU-142 M aircraft, and a demonstration by divers, in a swimming pool, of rescue of stranded persons from the sea.

There would be a similar flypast between 10 and 11 a.m. and 4.30 and 5.30 p.m. on Sunday. Other attractions include a film songs musical programme, a diving display, an exercise demonstration, games of luck and skills, an exhibition of naval items and general entertainment.

Capt. Rajiv Mehta told journalists that the Mela was being organised every year by all the naval units to establish rapport with the locals. "We invite all the people living close to the unit, especially students and teachers, and show them the flypast of the Chetak helicopters, Dornier and TU-142 aircraft".