Painted in red and white, adorned with the painting of a peacock, the Sarang display team's helicopters are a sight indeed. The Sarang team's routine is something that visitors at Aero India look forward to each time. The team flies the indigenous Advance Light Helicopter manufactured by the HAL in spectacular formations with a stealth entry. They fly in from the The desi metal bird is the pride of HAL that has been putting up a great show with its locally manufactured defence products at this year's Aero India show.
"Its an Indian machine and is a beautiful machine to fly. It is an all weather aircraft and apart from the display, it is used for other operations like aid and rescue, casualty evacuations, high altitude operations etc. It takes a dedicated technical team to keep these machines flying," said Wing Commander Sameer Bhopi, one of the pilots of the display team.
The team needs at least 5 to 6 helicopters in perfect conditions to be able to rehearse for a 4 helicopter display. The 50-55 strong team including pilots and technical support need immense coordination and commitment to pull off a display at shows like Aero India.
"This is my second tenure with Sarang and the experience has been great. Have served as part of the team both, within and outside the country. We done displays in various venues and it is a feeling of great pride when people appreciate what you do. It takes a lot of dedicated effort, training and skill, concentration by the team while engaging in displays," he added.
Meet the only woman pilot of the Sarang team
Squadron leader Sneha Kulkarni is thrilled. This is her first Aero India show but she has been part of the Sarang team's participation in many other cities as part of air force day celebrations etc. She volunteered, like the others, to be part of this spectacular team and has been with Sarang for a year now. "This is a unique team that works the entire year and our schedules are pretty tight. Working hours are extended and one must be willing to be part of this team and go through the selection process," she said.
The will to be a display pilot, a written exam, a flying test and the ability to working a team is what it takes to be a part of the prestigious Team Sarang. "It is extremely exciting to be in the air since flying has always been a fashion. Moreover, flying for an aero display that involves a lot of maneuvouring is different from going from place A to place B. It involves a lot of thrill and excitement," she quipped. While she is the only woman pilot in the team there are 2 women engineering officers and one team commentator.
The men who keep the machine running
The display is spectacular and the pilots are showered with accolades but the largest part of the team continuously works behind the screens to ensure that team Saarang rules the skies. The technical team has one agenda on their minds, 'keep the machine healthy so it can come back save with the pilot.' Speaking to OneIndia, Squadron leader Himanshu Purohit, the Chief engineering officer says that preparations are heavy for shows like aero India. "Preparations range from deciding upon what items are required towards maintenance, how much time will be spent in rehearsals , how many days we would be required to stay at a venue and includes the number of men who will be flying the machine etc. Preparing the helicopters, carrying activities like loading,, setting up a base, preparations include all of this,"he said.
This is the first Aero India for Sq leader Purohit too and he believes that it is never easy to fly a machine that is used in displays. "It is neither easy on the machine nor the pilots while flying a helicopter used in display. It is pure piloting skill. the helicopter is Indian, everything about it is Indian and we are proud each time it flies. This is one of the most agile and maneuverable helicopters in most of the inventory in the world and this makes ALH stand part from others," he added.
After enthralling the audience in India, team Sarang is all set to steal a Aero show in Malaysia in 2017.