Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Meet IAF top guns who choreographed aerial ballet

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Meet IAF top guns who choreographed aerial ballet

By Anantha Krishnan M
(Pix: Ishan Gore) 
The American F-16 Fighting Falcons were the last planes to fly out of Air Force Station Yelahanka on February 28, exactly four days after the curtains were drawn on an unforgettable Plane Carnival in India’s Aviation Capital, Bengaluru. 
In fact, when the border skirmishes between India and Pakistan reached a crescendo with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman downing an intruding Pakistani F-16, back at AFS Yelahanka the US fighters probably from a different block, were ready to bid goodbye to Indian soil, sans any attention. The Rafales, A400M and C-17 too were among the flying machines that had late check-outs from the base. 
Onmanorma was cleared to interact with a bunch of highly-skilled pilots and Test Pilots of Indian Air Force (IAF), who were hand-picked to ‘police the planes’ during the sky ballet at the show. Far away from the media glare and any spotlight whatsoever, the Flight Display Director’s (FDD) team, was among the many unsung teams which toiled hard behind the show. 
Group Captain Badhrish N Athreya, nicknamed Bads, was the Flight Display Director for Aero India 2019. A Chief Test Pilot with Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), this Bangalorean is a fighter pilot from the MiG-29 Fulcrums, a Pilot Attack Instructor (PAI), a Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) and of course an Experimental Test Pilot (ETP). He has flown more than 3,200 hours on 25 different types of aircraft. His team members were: 
* Wing Commander B S Reddy (Reddy Garu), a Sukhoi pilot, a Fighter Combat Leader (FCL) and a Test Pilot with more than 2,500 hours of flying on 20+ types of aircraft. 
* Squadron Leader P K Thakur (PKT) a Himachali, and Sqn Ldr A Subramanian (Subbu) a Bangalorean — both Sukhoi pilots and QFIs — with 2,000+ hours of flying on 20+ types of aircraft, each. 
* Wing Commander Tripathi (Trips), a Qualified Navigation Instructor from ASTE who has flown more than 5,000 hours was the administrative coordinator of the FDD. 
* Group Captain Ramji Yadov (Ramjet), another Fulcrum pilot belonging to Chennai and an ex-Surya Kiran pilot himself, was the HQ Training Command representative. 
Assisting the FDD team with enthralling commentary were Wg Cdr Paramjeet Singh (PJ), a navigator with 8,000+ hours of flying. He was assisted by Squadron Leaders Arpita Mukherjee, Sonia and Zuffila all women officers of the IAF, well experienced in doing commentary at various air shows of the IAF. 
And, PJ could take off at very short notice, if you were on his strike zone, with a request to sing a Hindi song! 
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