Living life on the edge everyday: The Surya Kiran Team

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Bangalore,Feb11 (PTI) Members of the Suryakiran team,IndianAir Force''s elite aerobatics squad,today highlighted theattributes that went into the making of a Suryakiran pilot.

"To be a Suryakiran pilot you need to have the courage of abull fighter, the steady nerves of a surgeon and the spirit ofa braveheart", said Wing Commander Prajual Singh, Team Leaderand Commanding Officer of the squad,performing at the ongoingAero India show.

"Most of us are in the team because we love the thrill andthe sheer adventure it offers", Singh said.

The team has mesmerismed onlookers with their risky, crispand stunning mid-air complex manoeuvres at the show.

"Knowledge of the aircraft, maturity to take the rightdecision and discipline are the three basic traits required",said Singh, whose team''s mid-air stunts like criss-crossingin the skies, rolling the metal bird on its belly and loopingaround, has come in for accolades.

"Alertness and precision required for conducting anaerobatic display, requires continuous practice", said WingCommander Deepak Setia. "It is only practice that makes usperfect", said Singh echoing Setia''s views.

The rigorous practice includes flying two sorties a dayevery day and more than an hour in the cockpit, apart fromdaily briefings before and after the sortie. It also includesa medical fitness test daily.

The team members admit they live life on the edgeeveryday, but no one is really complaining. Every member has atenure of three years in the team.

The team, which flies nine aircraft in various formations,says once selected to be a part of the elite team, the newmember had to go through 60 sorties of 25 flying hours tograduate from one aircraft formation to two, three and laternine aircraft formation.

Any of the IAF pilots keen to be a member of the team wererequired to apply and were put through a series of tests,before being selected. The team currently has 13 members, nineof which peform at any given time.

Though the current team loves Kiran Mk.2 trainer aircraftthey perform in, the team said the IJT trainer is alsosomething they would like try their hands on.

The crux is understanding the limits of the aircraft whenperforming mid-air manoeuvres, a member said.

Display at different regions and climatic conditionsdemands different kind of practice and training, Singh said.

The Surya Kiran team, which were conferred squadron statusin 2006, and presently have the designation of 52 Squadron,Air force ("The Sharks"), perform at nearly 30 shows a year.

"We are the best" choruses the team when asked to rank thetop ranked team in the aerobatic space.

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