The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team created parallel and horizontal flight designs, releasing colours of the Indian flag using aerosols, and popular patterns like the heart and arrow, the water spring and the apple.— file photo
The Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team was disbanded nearly four years ago
The thrilling aerobatics display by the premier Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) of the Indian Air Force left many a spectator awestruck. However, nearly four years after the team was disbanded when their aircraft Kiran MKII gave way to the Hawks, pilots, who flew in the famed team, are not sure when they will get another chance to amaze people with their daredevilry
“We were grounded in 2011 and redrafted to different duties with a promise that the aerobatics team would be reformulated soon. We are still waiting for a clear word from our seniors,” lamented a former member, who has been posted out of Bidar, which used to be the home base for the team.
Pilots from the Bidar Air Force base, the second biggest Indian air force training centre in the country, flew in formations of three, six and nine aircraft. The Kiran MKII plane, modified for aerobatic display, was used to create parallel and horizontal flight designs, releasing colours of the Indian flag using aerosols, and popular patterns like the heart and arrow, the water spring and the apple.
A senior IAF official acknowledged that they were not sure how much time it would take or when the new team would start performances though the work of creating an IAF aerobatic team was on. “It is likely that we will use a modified version of the BAE Hawk plane,” he said. “These pilots will serve as our ambassadors. Therefore, the best pilots with agility, finger dexterity and top class health conditions will be drafted for the team,” the officer said. Recalling the heydays, the wife of a former SKAT team member recalled that SKAT formation flights were among the few events to which families of pilots were invited. “We enjoyed them very much. My children and I would sit on the ground and try to identify which plane my husband was flying. Sometimes we got it right, but most of the time we were completely wrong,” she chuckled.
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