An air show of this kind is one sure way of tak­ing avi­a­tion to the masses as it has tremen­dous ad­ver­tis­ing po­ten­tial if one goes by the sheer num­bers that wit­nessed the dis­play

SP's Airbuz - - Table Of Contents - BY CHARLES JAMES WEIR

FROM APRIL 29 TO May 1, 2016, the Fed­er­a­tion of In­dian Cham­bers of Com­merce and In­dus­try (FICCI) to­gether with the Gu­jarat State Avi­a­tion In­fra­struc­ture Lim­ited (GUJSAIL), or­gan­ised a scin­til­lat­ing three-day air show at Ahmed­abad to pro­mote civil avi­a­tion for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and in­clu­sive growth. The air show was also held as part of the Gu­jarat State Foun­da­tion Day cel­e­bra­tions. The venue of the air show was the scenic Sabar­mati river­front be­tween the Gandhi and Nehru bridges with the view­ing area for the VIPs be­ing set up on the Western bank of this stretch of the river.

The air show was in­au­gu­rated by the Chief Min­is­ter of Gu­jarat Anandiben Pa­tel. In his wel­come ad­dress, the Gu­jarat Min­is­ter for Civil Avi­a­tion, Sau­rab­hb­hai Pa­tel high­lighted the in­nu­mer­able ini­tia­tives that the state gov­ern­ment had taken to cre­ate an at­mos­phere con­ducive for the growth of civil avi­a­tion in the state. Dur­ing the in­au­gu­ral cer­e­mony, the Chief Min­is­ter fe­lic­i­tated the six lady trainee pi­lots of the Gu­jarat Fly­ing Club and launched a re­gional air ser­vice based at Su­rat. THE AIR DIS­PLAY TEAM. UK-based Global Stars Aer­o­batic team owned and led by Mark Jef­feries, a for­mer Bri­tish aer­o­batic cham­pion, put up a thrilling air dis­play. He, along with other mem­bers of the team—Tom Cas­sells, a for­mer Bri­tish aer­o­batic cham­pion, Chris Bur­kett and Steve Carver—were sup­ported by three engi­neers and an ad­min­is­tra­tive rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The air­craft par­tic­i­pat­ing in the aerial dis­play were mod­els EA 330SC, EA 300L and a CAP 232 which have been man­u­fac­tured by Ger­man com­pany Ex­tra. These two-seater mono­planes were de­signed in 1987 by Wal­ter Ex­tra, a Ger­man aer­o­batic pi­lot. With a max­i­mum speed of 300 kmph, these air­craft have a range of 360 km. Un­for­tu­nately, the aer­o­batic team could not ob­tain the li­cence to im­port into In­dia, the coloured smoke can­is­ters that would have added an­other di­men­sion of grace­ful charm to the aer­o­batic dis­play. It is un­der­stood that their case got bogged down in bu­reau­cratic de­lays with the con­cerned li­cens­ing au­thor­i­ties in In­dia. This is typ­i­cal of the bu­reau­cratic malaise that af­flicts the na­tion.

All the four air­craft that took part in the aerial dis­play are high per­for­mance ma­chines ca­pa­ble of ad­vanced aer­o­bat­ics. The com­bi­na­tion of ex­cep­tional aero­planes and pi­lots with truly su­perb skills set the stage for an air show that en­thralled four lakh vis­i­tors ev­ery day for three days. Ahmed­abad was a scorch­ing 44 de­grees Cel­sius on the open­ing day and ku­dos to the pi­lots who flew and per­formed high ‘g’ for­ma­tion aer­o­batic ma­noeu­vres un­der these con­di­tions.

THE AIR DIS­PLAY. The chief guest was es­corted to the view­ing gallery by which time the four air­craft had taken off from the Sar­dar Val­lab­hb­hai Pa­tel In­ter­na­tional Air­port at Ahmed­abad. The trained eye could see three air­craft in a tight ‘ Vic’ for­ma­tion or­bit­ing at 3,000 feet, three nau­ti­cal miles from the venue. The fourth air­craft was at 10,000 feet in front of the view­ing gallery. As the chief guest de­clared the air show open, ‘ the sin­gle­ton’ smoke painted a ‘smi­ley’, eye­brows and all, which the crowd sim­ply loved. The com­men­ta­tor had just fin­ished in­tro­duc­ing the team when ‘the sin­gle­ton’, Mark Jef­fries who had de­scended from his perch at 10,000 feet, made his low level run. The air­craft was be­ing flown at 30 feet above the ground and at a speed of 200 knots, from the di­rec­tion of the Nehru bridge to the Gandhi bridge, skim­ming over the wa­ter. Abeam the VIP en­clo­sure, Mark ex­e­cuted a gutwrench­ing eight ‘g’ pull out to the ver­ti­cal with his pro­peller wash leav­ing rip­ples in the placid wa­ters of the Sabar­mati. The Ver­ti­cal Char­lie ma­noeu­vre that fol­lowed was flaw­less cul­mi­nat­ing in for­ward and back­ward tum­bles and left the spec­ta­tors spell­bound.

The four air­craft then joined up and per­formed a se­ries of loops and bar­rel rolls de­scend­ing from 2,000 feet to 500 feet. They then split into pairs and ex­e­cuted syn­chro­nised stall turns and a se­ries of truly stun­ning criss-crosses at 50 feet above the ground. Each time they crossed, they per­formed snap rolls which left the au­di­ence with a ‘ heart-in-the-mouth’ feel­ing. The fi­nale was a mir­ror for­ma­tion; one air­craft was fly­ing in­verted at 100 feet above the ground with the other fly­ing canopy to canopy just ten feet di­rectly be­low. This was fol­lowed by a join up of the four air­craft and a stun­ning low pass at 30 feet! As the air­craft de­parted, the hushed crowd broke out into a spon­ta­neous ap­plause hav­ing been treated to twenty min­utes of some amaz­ing fly­ing dis­play.

The cit­i­zens of Ahmed­abad were wit­ness to a very skil­ful and awe-in­spir­ing aerial dis­play by an aer­o­batic team of world stan­dards. The crowd turnout, de­spite the scorch­ing tem­per­a­tures, on all the three days was good to see. An air show of this kind is one sure way of tak­ing avi­a­tion to the masses as it has tremen­dous ad­ver­tis­ing po­ten­tial if one goes by the sheer num­bers that wit­nessed the aerial dis­play. Avi­a­tion en­thu­si­asts at the venue were heard whis­per­ing of the pos­si­bil­ity of In­dia hav­ing its own civil­ian aer­o­batic dis­play team some­time in the near fu­ture.


Chief Min­is­ter of Gu­jarat Anandiben Pa­tel in­au­gu­rated the three-day air show in Ahmed­abad

UK-based Global Stars Aer­o­batic team owned and led by Mark Jef­feries put up a thrilling air dis­play

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