Colours of Glory

85th Air Force Day celebrated with pomp and show

Aditya Kakkar

Hindon: The 85th Air Force Day was marked by a scintillating air display by various aircraft, both vintage and modern, that combined air prowess with classic aerobatic showmanship. It was held at the Air Force Station, Hindon (Ghaziabad) on a day when the weather decided to play a bit of a spoilsport with grey skies and a hint of settled smog.

Indian Air Force at 85

The air display began with flag-bearing sky divers of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) 14-member team, Akash Ganga, which jumped fearlessly from the AN-32 aircraft from 8,000 feet and landed on steady ground after dazzling all with their numerous midair formations.

There were a series of drills on the ground by air force personnel, ‘Akash’, that included daredevil acts of throwing and catching rifles midair, with razor-sharp bayonets jutting out all the while. The 5.5 kg, 303 rifles seemed like mere toys in the hands of the air warriors as they performed numerous manoeuvres to the deafening applause from the crowd.

It was a treat to see a vintage aircraft such as the ‘Tigermoth’ deftly holding its own even after all these decades. It surely made a number of retired personnel nostalgic and even proud to witness the aircraft painted in yellow disappear beyond the horizon.

The event also showcased flypast by a C-17 Globemaster, flanked by two Sukhoi-MKIs and other attack helicopters. The front-line aircraft zoomed past the parade venue while deploying anti-missile flares.

The Surya Kiran aerobatics team performed several heart-stopping mid-air manoeuvres including the Rafale, Sukhoi 30, Tejas and Gripen formation. The Surya Kiran team, which flew on Hawk jets, dedicated their display to Marshal of Air Force Arjan Singh, who passed away on September 16. The high point of the day was the fact that nine aircraft participated, making it the world’s largest aerobatics team. The red and white Surya Kirans were a delight to watch and truly captured the heart of everyone in audience.

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