Marching in step and taking a pledge to serve the nation in one voice, as many as 187 flight cadets entered the Indian Air Force (IAF) as officers in different branches after presenting a colourful Combined Graduation Parade at the Air Force Academy (AFA) here on Saturday.
Army Chief General Bikram Singh presided over the parade and gave away ranks to the cadets who had finished their training courses.
After presenting ranks and ‘wings’ to those graduating as pilots, Gen. Singh advised the cadets on the practical aspects of their career.
“Today’s parade marks the culmination of your training, but you should never forget that learning is an endless process. Continue to work hard and create your own professional future. As you progress in service, you must strive to build better leadership qualities,” he said.
After completing a gruelling training course of more than one-and-a-half years, the cadets took to the advice readily.
“I am eager to take my training as a fighter pilot. The training session that we go through at AFA makes us ready for any type of tough task,” a cadet said.
The event was also marked by a scintillating performance by the Air Warrior Drill team that drew applause from the audience with its synchronised parade. And, with a mega-event being held in the Air Force, aerial acrobatics cannot be behind. The show was graced by a host of flying machines that kept the audience enthralled.
While aircraft like AN-32, Dornier, Pilatus PC-7 and fighter trainer jets Hawk and Kiran made their appearance at the event, the display by multi-role fighter aircraft SU-30 stole the show.
Showing off its agility, the aircraft, captained by Wing Commander Ashish Sharma, performed different drills, from slow glides to high-speed vertical ascends. Another star attraction at the event was the show put up by the Air Force’s parachute team ‘Akash Ganga’.
Braving the dense cloud cover and heavy winds, a team of 10 precipitated out of the clouds much to the amusement of the audience. “The team was dropped at an altitude of 6,000 feet, but it was difficult for us to see anything due to the dense cloud cover that enveloped the venue and winds too did not make the job easy as they were blowing at a speed of 40 knots, way faster than what a parachute can cope,” a team member said.
Of the 187 cadets, 21 were women, four were from the Navy and one from the Coast Guard. Senior officials from the Army and the Air Force attended the event.