HYDERABAD: “Hi cheppu (say hi),” a man told his young daughter, who had occupied his shoulders for a better view, as the Sarang Helicopter Display Team of the Air Force sliced through the sky as part of Wings India - 2024, on Saturday. On the third day of the civil aviation exhibition that was open to the public, visitors across ages were seen enjoying their tryst with the sky.
As the helicopters pulled off stunts with unbelievable ease, a little boy’s excitement came out in squeals. A woman, the grey in her hair betraying her age, was seen looking up at the sky with child-like wonder.
In a conversation with TNIE, Group Captain Santosh Kumar Mishra, who leads the team that usually has up to 18 pilots, said, “Sarang in Sanskrit means peacock. The design of the aircraft also represents the Sarang.”
The team also takes part in humanitarian assistance and disaster management activities. “In December, our pilots were dropping relief equipment, evacuating injured people, pregnant women and children in Tamil Nadu,” says Squadron leader Avinash.
The only military helicopter display team in the world does not just belong to the men, with the current team having two women. Being a part of the one-of-a-kind team is a matter of pride for Squadron leader Shipra. Group Captain SK Mishra is optimistic that the share of female pilots will go up. When quizzed about plans to introduce new manoeuvres, Squadron Leader Avinash maintains that the only constant is change. He says, “We keep trying to improve our manoeuvres and visual appeal. We have plans and we are striving to improve our visual appeal as well as our reach.”
Squadron leader Akash Kumar urged everyone to follow the military display team on social media platforms. He says, “That, I believe, is the best way to motivate all the youngsters of the nation to join the Air Force.”