Look out for the silver lining in the sky

February 17, 2015 11:24 pm | Updated April 02, 2016 05:15 am IST - Bengaluru:

Karnataka:Bengaluru:17/02/2015: Red Bulls aerobatic display team frm Czech Republic  Radka Machova (64), Jiri Saller (60), and Miroslav Krejci (56) who are participating at Aero India Show-2015, during an interaction with Media on February 17, 2015. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy

Karnataka:Bengaluru:17/02/2015: Red Bulls aerobatic display team frm Czech Republic Radka Machova (64), Jiri Saller (60), and Miroslav Krejci (56) who are participating at Aero India Show-2015, during an interaction with Media on February 17, 2015. Photo: V Sreenivasa Murthy

The clear blue sky stretching out into infinity may excite a cricket fan for it assures a rainless match. However, for acrobatic fliers it comes as a minor inconvenience.

“It is too clear. I don’t like it,” says 66-year-old Radka Machova, the lead pilot with Flying Bulls, the Czech Republic aerobatics team.

Clear skies, she explains, doesn’t bode well for the intricate navigations needed for their precisely synchronised aerobatic routines. “If there are a few clouds here and there, we get a marker. We can set our field (the open skies) with grids for our routines, and we can use the clouds as navigation,” says Ms. Machova. Clear skies for aerobatic pilots are akin to blank sheets – with no indication of an up or down.

However, the pilots will have a discerning eye for another denizen of the sky: birds.

“There are so many large birds (Black Kites and Brahminy Kites) in Yelahanka. Last time, we had a bird that was manoeuvring in front of us. We had to keep an eye on its movements, and the moment it went down, we started to go up,” said Ms. Machova.

This is the third consecutive edition, over a span of six years that the four-member team – of pilots aged between 55 and 66 – is participating in the Aero India. “The Airport road has been complete!” says the veteran pilot with almost the same enthusiasm as a regular commuter on the long-beleaguered Airport road stretch.

Bengaluru will also find a prominent place in the history of the team; for, the performance in the 2015 edition will be the last for the team’s Czech-built Zlin 50 LX aircraft. “After this, we move to practice with our new planes, the modern German-made XA42. That is a faster, lighter plane,” says Ms. Machova.

Just seven models of the all-metal Zlin 50 LX, which hit the sports flight scene in 1991, were produced – four of which are with the Flying Bulls team.

With the upgradation to the 2012-made composite-body XA 42, the pilots expect better speed from its 315 horsepower engine.

Come February 22, citizens can be a part of the nostalgia, watching the trusty Zlins fade into the twilight after innumerable performances all across the globe.

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