By Sarang Publicity Wing
The ‘Sarang’ Helicopter Display Team has evolved from erstwhile ALH Evaluation Flight (AEF) formed at Aircraft and System Testing Establishment (ASTE) on 18 March 2002. After completion of the initial task of field evaluation of the ‘Advanced Light Helicopter’ (ALH), the unit was tasked with role of formation display flying to showcase the capability of the indigenously manufactured ALH and as ambassadors of the Indian Air Force.
The Team ‘Sarang’ has been derived from the Sanskrit meaning ‘Peacock’, the Indian National bird. It attempts to symbolise the beauty and grace of the peacock, during the display. The helicopters have been painted in bright colours with the peacock form superimposed on them. The team was amalgamated with the resurrected 151 HU in Jun 2004 and accorded a status of full fledged helicopter unit.
The Team made its debut performance at the Asian Aerospace Air show at Singapore in Feb 2004. Since then, the Team has performed in 35 various air shows in India as well as abroad. The Team’s performance at Al Ain Aerobatic Show, UAE in Jan 05 earned it a reputation as one of the best display team in the world. Since its first display; the Team has carried out numerous displays in India and Abroad. The team participated in the Berlin air show in May 2008 where it was adjudged as the best looking close formation team.
The team made history after five helicopters of Indian Air Force ferried across the English Channel from Germany to the United Kingdom. In the year 2011, the team has participated in the Bangalore Air Show, passing out parades for NDA and AF Academy.
The Sarang Team is led by its Commanding Officer, Wing Commander Manjeet Singh Sidhu, VM. Wing Commander SK Shivrain is the Deputy team leader. The other team members are Wing Commander Nikhil Naidu, Wing Commander Kunal Girme, Wing Commander Vinod Negi, Squadron Leader Prabhat Shukla, Squadron Leader Sameet Bhopi, Squadron Leader V Manoj, Squadron Leader Anil Yadav, Squadron Leader SK Mishra, Squadron Leader Rahul Sharma and Squadron Leader Sumedh Jamkar. Squadron Leader Rahul Sharma is the latest entrant to the team and has the onerous and difficult task of keeping a watchful eye on the team every time it performs as its safety officer. Squadron Leader Siddharth Kumar is the Senior Engineering officer of the team. He along with Flight Lieutenant Priyanshu Mukherji, Flight Lieutenant Bharat Bajaj and the other professional and qualified air warriors of the team keep the machines flying fit for such arduous profiles. Flight Lieutenant Praveen Kumar, does the commentary for the displays with his deep baritone voice.
The ‘Sarang’ Team has earned a name for itself as a professional display team in a short span of time. It has the unique distinction of being one of only two operational helicopter display team in the world, the other being ‘Blue Eagles’ of the British Army. The Team continuously strives to modify and perform new profiles for each display. It strives toward achieving greater perfection and professionalism. While it is natural to expect daring and precise formation displays by fixed wing aircraft, it is difficult for helicopters to perform similar manoeuvres owing to the inherent instability and large and unwieldy rotors. This is what makes the ‘Sarang Display Team’ so special and unique.
NEW ACT: The new profile, which the Sarang flies these days, begins with entry in diamond formation with the No.1 flying backwards. The lead helicopter thereafter does a reverse flare and hovers momentarily before diving for a salute to the audience. The leader then flies through a formation of three helicopters while demonstrating the reverse flying capability of the ALH. The first three helicopters then group together to perform the star manoeuvre which is unique to helicopter flying – the stall turn known as the ‘Dolphin’s Leap’. The team then continually keeps the audience glued to the skies with their breathtaking manoeuvres. The next is the hearstopping ‘Crossover Break’, followed by the ‘Arrow’.
Another addition to the profile has been incorporated recently are the wingovers followed by two aircraft pair manoeuvring where in two aircraft face each other on the Runway and turn about each other describing a circle on ground. The team then regroups for its final signature manoeuvre ‘The Sarang Split ’ in which the four heicopter cross each other vertically and horizontally to form a knot.
The team strives to give the best to the audience and is ever hopeful that with their display, it is able to capture the hearts of the audience and enthrall them.
(This article is hosted on the blog without editing.)