A ballet in the skies

Tricolour pride.

Tricolour pride.  

IT WAS with bated breath that everybody watched the take off and soon the dance in the air captivated the audience. The audience was spellbound when two aircraft etched a heart in the sky with their colourful trails.

In the jet age though we are, flying is still a wonder for most of us. And when the jets are engaged in aerobatics in the air, it is enough to give anyone a lasting visual experience.

The Suryakiran team of the Indian Air Force, which comes here every year for an aerobatic performance as part of the Navy Week celebrations, once again thrilled the audience with their performance. This time, the team was led by a Malayali, Wing Commander Sreekumar Prabhakaran, who is a Mig-21 pilot with over 4,200 hours of flying.

Flying at varying speeds between 200 to 600 km per hour, at altitudes ranging from 100 to 1,000 feet, the Kiran aircraft which can attain a maximum speed of 780 km per hour, flew in various formations in the sky.

The V-shape in which the aircraft fly suddenly form two groups in the air and join again to form a `T' or a `Y' shape or other shapes which are described as wedge, shockwave, goblet and wine glass at the same time leaving behind tricolour smoke trails.

The squardon leaders, Sanjeev Sethi and Snajay Khajuria, and the synchro pair of the six-aircraft team, etched a heart in the sky. The aerobatics was initially named Thunderbolts when it was formed in 1982 comprising Hunter aircraft. These were replaced by indigenously made Kiran aircraft and the team was renamed Suryakiran (rays of the sun) which is based at the Air Force Station in Bidar.

The 30-minute aerobatics at the INS Garuda was one of the highlights of the Navy Week celebrations, which comes to an end this week.

By Shyama Rajagopal

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