UDHAMPUR: Aerial displays are the core attractions of any air show that bring visitors thronging to the event. Aero India 2015 also promises to live up to its reputation as the biggest air show in Asia. 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.
Contrary to belief it is not the ATC controller who orchestrates the aerial choreography but is 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. “From here I can exercise ‘veto control’ to stop and recall any aircraft should it endanger safety or violate laid down safety parameters,” explains Air Cmde Singh.
To make the display attractive and more appealing the aircraft usually fly low and closer to the viewing area. Depending on the speed and the class of aircraft, the height and distances are laid down taking into consideration various factors including the line-up of the static aircraft here on display.
Meanwhile, to make the visual spectacle more delightful a commentary team in an adjoining cabin will relay the proceedings explaining the manoeuvres being performed while also providing basic and background information all the while. “We want to make the spectacle as informative and entertaining for our viewers,” promises Wg Cdr Prabhjeet Singh, the officer heading the IAF commentary team before heading off to the microphone as aircraft begin lining up for their last rehearsals for the day.