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'Sarang' to be showstopper at Aero India

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India's aerobatics team 'Sarang'

NEW DELHI (PTI): A magnificent display by both civil and military aircraft besides famed aerobatic teams from around the world would enthrall audience in Bengaluru as the 10th edition of Aero India gets inaugurated today.

Asia's premier air show will see world-acclaimed aerobatics teams - Breitling Wingwalkers (US), Scandinavian Air Show, Flying Bulls from Czech Republic, Yakovlevs formation display team from UK - captivating the young and old onlookers alike with their stunts.

However, India's very own Indian aerobatics team 'Sarang' flown by young IAF helicopter pilots will be the showstoppers as they take to the sky.

The IAF Sarang Helicopter Display Team has the unique distinction of being one of only two helicopter display teams in the world, the other being 'Blue Eagles' of the British Army.

The Sarang profile will begin with entry in an inverted wine glass formation. This will be followed by various close formations in 'Line Astern' and 'Diamond' formation to facilitate a closer look at the helicopters for the audience.

Three helicopters then group together to perform the star manoeuvre which is unique to helicopter flying the 'stall turn' known as the 'Dolphin's Leap'.

The team will then continuously keep the audience glued to the skies with their breath-taking manoeuvres.

The team then will regroup for its final signature manoeuvre 'The Sarang Split' involving the four helicopters criss-crossing each other vertically and horizontally to form a knot.

The leitmotif 'Sarang' is derived from Sanskrit for 'peacock'.

The helicopters have been painted in bright colours with the peacock form superimposed on them.

"It attempts to symbolise the beauty and grace of the peacock during the display," Sarang Team Leader, Wing Commander A S Abhyankar said.

A qualified flying instructor and now Commanding Officer of the outfit, the return to Aero India for Wg Cdr Abhyankar and a few others is a deja vu moment. Abhyankar first flew in the 2003 Aero India edition as a young Flight Lieutenant.

The Sarang team first debuted at the Asian Aerospace Air show at Singapore in February 2004. Since then, the team has performed in over 35 air shows in India and abroad.

Their scintillating performance at Al Ain Aerobatic Show, UAE, in January 2005, earned them a reputation as one of the best display teams in the world.

In Berlin air show of May 2008, the team was adjudged as the 'best looking close formation team'.

The team made history after five of its helicopters ferried across the English Channel from Germany to the United Kingdom.

"We are compelled to give bang for the buck," said Wing Commander Mudit Chaurasia, a sub-section leader in the formation who flies as 'Sarang-2'.

Having flown in several major air shows worldwide including at RIAT (Royal International Air Tattoo), Fairford, UK among others, Wg Cdr Chaurasia singles out his recent air show in November last over Passighat in Arunachal Pradesh as memorable.

It is mostly in valleys of the northeast or J&K where most IAF helicopters earn their spurs early in their flying career.

Incidentally, more than 15 teams comprising 23 or more aircraft will perform precision flying twice daily in the coming days.

Usually at any airfield, civil or military, it is the controller at the Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower who regulates the movement of all aircraft taking off, landing or operating over the airfield.

However, here it would be done by a small team comprising a few pilots and sharp-eyed air warriors among others.

At the specially erected Flight Display Control cabin, a team of officers and men from the Aircraft Systems & Testing Establishment keep a hawk-like vigil on all proceedings ensuring the displays remain flawless, and more importantly, safe.

"Whenever we have any flying display it is a very coordinated activity. People are flying to their edges. Also in a very time bound manner they have to get airborne, plus safeties are involved. So while the normal controlling of the aircraft are continued from the ATC, the control of the flying display aircraft is additionally done from here," explains Flight Display Director, Air Commodore AP Singh who ensures no air violations happen.

To ensure this, proper pre-flight briefings are held every day. At the end of the display, proper debriefs are also held, he adds.

An array of marked display screens in the control cabin indicate the heights and distances that these aircraft cannot not violate.

These are ensured strictly by all operators.

The task of keeping tight vigil is additionally ensured through specially erected cameras at various airfield locations as well as over demarcated areas to ensure flight safety.

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