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Old 28th June 2009, 12:16   #1
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Default Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy

Every Year there is a traditional Pass out Parade for young IAF pilots at Air Force Academy in Dindigul 45kms from Hyderabad.This ceremonial parade happens in June and December.
As June approached I was able to get the information about the date of this ceremonial parade and it was scheduled for 27th June at 7.30am.I secured the passes for my Family and an extra Invitation was available,hence i invited a fellow Bhpian and his young son.

We started on 27th morning at 5.30am and reached my friend's place at 5.45.We were all dressed in Lounge suits as per the instructions in the invitation card.After we all settled in my Cedia We rolled on to Bowenpally rd and drove past Medchal,Bahadurpally and got on to Medak road.After a distance of 40 odd kms,we reached the Dindigul Airforce station and entered after flashing our invitation cards.surprisingly we were entering a defense location and there was so security check,scanning under the car or boot.
We drove past the serene location the airforce academy where the de comissioned yesteryear trainers and fighters like Ajits,Gnats were displayed.After parking the car in designated spot we started walking towards the Parade arena and reached the vantage point where already the crowd was starting to fill up.
On the Apron,we could see a good collection of Trainer aircrafts and fighter jets and helicopters like Mi-8,Chetaks,Hawk Trainer,Kiran Mark1 and mark 2,Dorniers and a huge AN-32 transport aircraft.
Soon the announcements began giving the history of IAF and its significance in Indian context and value add.Promptly at 7.30am the passing out cadets paraded in a lined procession and stood infront of us.after various drills the Army Chief who was chief guest arrived in a convoy (open Gypsy) and paraded a salute round and soon started to badge the new cadets with their gradualtion medals.It was en experiance to see 2 cadets strip the old hat bands and shoulder collar bands before the army chief pinned the gradual medal,signifying their graduation.
As we were watching this a fly past parade of Kiran Mark 1 and 2 marked the flying display open.Soon a 2 Hawk trainers escorted a AN-32 in a fly past parade just above 1000 ft above the ground.
The Army chief adressed the cadets and explained their role in country's protection.Next on the line was a fly past of newly acquired British Hawk trainers which blazed past us at geat speed deafing our ears.
Next on the fly display was 3 Advanced Light Helicopters manufactured by HAL,Bangalore,which performed some beautiful maneouvres catching us all in amazement.One of the highlighted stunts was one helicopted flying in reverse direction against 2 helicopers approching from behind.

This was followed by the breath taking acrobatics of 9 Surya kirans for some 20 minutes and it was simply superb.This was follwed by a sky diving team jumping from 3000 ft from a helicopter for paradrop.To our amazement the parajumpers were dropping likes stoned before the parachutes were deployed and they safely landed.The ceremony concluded with a ground maneouvre of cadets performing acrobats with their rifles.

Soon we were all let out on the apron to see the static display of aircrats and helicopters.But wisely we headed for the breakfast hanger and did justice to our hungry tummies.While we stepped out of breakfast the Arny Chief was leaving in his IAF Boeing which was parked just few metres away from us.Soon the engines revved and the ear shattering nosies of 2 Boeing Engines reverberated the whole airforce station and we watched the place taxi and take off.

Soon we headed to the static display of the aircrafts and our little ones were too active to go around the planes,getting into the cockpits,touching the nose cones,wings, and missiles and gattling guns.

Finally at 1pm we decided to quit the apron and head back home quite exhausted.

In the end it was an awesome experiance.Though i have been to this pass our parade many times,this was the one of the best.Vijay and Mihiran enjoyed the whole day event and their camaraderie was good to watch and we came back proud of the IAF and India.

Sadly i was wanting to hear the national anthem to be played in the end,but instead Saren Jahan se Acha echoed in our drums,much tomy pleasure.

So pics i could manage to take with my poor camera.Though the flypast maneoures couldnt be captured in my camera.
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:25   #2
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nice trip on a cool sunday morning. enjoy.
the other bhpian should be Raveendra...
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:28   #3
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nice pics hillram. are the passes open to anybody. someday would like to take my son.
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:28   #4
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Yes the other T-Bhpian was Raveendra.
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:29   #5
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@bharani...The passes are open to public too,but its easier to get hold of them,if you have a Airforce,Army,Navy connection.
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Old 28th June 2009, 12:51   #6
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It must have been a very thrilling experience to the two young boys and two not so young boys, to watch the flying birds from so close. A fantastic way to spend a sunday morning.

i think flying would remain a boy/man's ultimate fantacy.
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Old 28th June 2009, 14:50   #7
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Great narration, Hillram! Good pics too!

I visited the array of fighter planes at Begumpet in the summer of 03, and also saw the acrobatics over Hussein Sagar. Hyd had its biggest traffic jam on that Sunday.

I wonder when the encore will be---this time I can watch from my terrace instead.
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Old 28th June 2009, 22:22   #8
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Ram, I wish I was as young as Vijay or Mihiran! Nice pics & write-up!
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Old 28th June 2009, 23:33   #9
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Nazim..next Passing out Parade happens in Dec..watch out again.
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Old 29th June 2009, 01:19   #10
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How I wish this trip could have been in the Test Drives and initial ownership reports section of TBHP. I would have loved to go up in a plane!

As the pictures posted by Hillram showed, the other TBHPian was me. Great pics Ram, unfortunately my camera seems to work only when in M/s. Chimalgi. I sure hope Arun gets his charger from B'lore soon so that I too may be equipped to take decent pics.

Thanks Ram for inviting me and Mihiran to share this wonderful event with you and your family. Both of us enjoyed it immensely.

The day started really early, with Ram picking us up at some unearthly hour. It was nice to see two TBHPians dressed as formally as Indians normally go i.e. Lounge suits. A nice pleasant drive (no traffic) later we were at the gate of the Air Force Academy, Dundigal. We were politely waved in and our parking area was pointed out to us with quiet efficiency. A word about the drive - the Cedia was super smooth and quiet. The handling was superb and a very different from the older Lancer which I had driven. Of course, a lot of credit for the smooth drive goes to Ram's driving skills and style, two words i.e. sober and mature describe Ram's driving.

We walked in by around 7.15 onto the air-side of the AFA to find half the chairs already taken! Nevertheless, we found a good spot and parked ourselves for the event. In front of the audience was a brackdrop with pictures of some of the more glamourous aircraft in the IAF fleet. In front of the backdrop were displayed a few planes and helicopters which are the mainstay of the AFA and the IAF i.e. An Avro - which is a turbo-prop aircraft used to transport men and material to the most inhospitable areas; an AN32 - the mule of the IAF a turbo-prop freighter, Mi8 helicopter which is huge and is used to transport men and material; Chetak helicopters which are used for almost anything; a Hawk jet - which is used extensively for training; Kiran Mk I Jet trainer, and Kiran Mk II jet trainer which is used for training in armaments.

Precisely at 7.30 (the appointed time by which all guests were requested to be in their seats) the P.A. system crackled to life and the the audience were given a briefing on the brief history of the IAF, the Training command, the Air Force Academy and sister institutions. A treat surreptiously enjoyed was watching a fleet of Kirans take off in twos and fly in formation into the distance (this was not a part of the ceremonies - they were taking to the air in order to be in position to take part in the proceedings later).

At precisely 8.00 a.m. the proceedings started with the arrival of the Commandant of the AFA who was followed quickly by the Air Vice Marshal in charge of training. This precise punctuality was to be the hallmark of the whole ceremonies as we learnt later. The 'Reviewing Officer' which is Militaryese for Chief Guest was the Chief of Army Staff, he arrived exactly at 8.05 (the time printed in the Invitations!).

The parade commenced with the reviewing officer being paraded before the graduates in an open topped Gypsy. The Gypsy had a whole lot of chrome and brass and the whole thing gleamed, no, I do not think they used any of the fancy liquid polishes or other car detailing stuff - just good old polish and lots of elbow grease.

An interesting part of the parade was the co-ordination between the participants on the ground and in the sky. The Kirans who had taken off earlier zoomed past at the exact moment there was a gap designed for their appearance. One set of jets passed the podium exactly when the 'Colours' (Colours is a term used for a flag or pennant presented by the C-in-C to a unit of the military) were passing the podium!

After a military parade, the business of commissioning the officers began in earnest. The reviewing officer went up and down the line of the new graduates pinning their badges onto their shirts. (If he poked a few in the process - they, being the good soldiers that they are, did not flinch!) As Ram mentioned in his report, it was interesting to see a very tall cadet (surely chosen so that he could reach the caps of the tallest of the graduates with ease) pull of the white band covering the 'cap band' of the grads peaked caps and then rip off similar white covers covering their shoulder tabs a few moments before the reviewing officer stood in front of that graduate to pin his badge. These white coverings were neatly deposited in a brass bin being carried by another cadet closely following the tallest one.

The exhibition by the Sarang unit of the IAF which does aerobatics using the Advanced Light Helicopter built by the HAL left one breathless. The helicopters seemed to be dancing in the air - moving, weaving and pirouetting with the grace of ballerinas. Flying them so close to each other surely requires sublime skill. The helicopters themselves were painted an eye catching yellow and red (with a peacock motif?).

The 'Surya Kiran' aerobatic team of the IAF once again displayed their prowess and totally captivated the audience with their superb synchronised flying which is precise to the nanosecond and I am sure to the inch in the air. Unlike the earliest routines of this team, they now disperse and rejoin several times in the course of their display, thereby using the whole canvas of the sky to great effect. It is a treat to try and guess where each of the 9 planes will make its next appearance from. A sign of the times - they now do a slightly kitschy heart and arrow routine. Kitschy on not, the precision needed to embroider the sky with a heart and an arrow going through it, using three planes is truly mind blowing. (And we are thrilled with ourselves doing donuts & slides on gravel!)

The oath administered to the newly commissioned officers is meaningful and thoughtful, it talks not only about serving country and C-in-C and obeying superiors but also talks about treating subordinates with respect and sympathy and interacting with all others appropriately. A lesson or two can be drawn from it by HR professionals.

Now to the pics. They are of poor quality and are all long shots as the using the zoom is introducing 'noise' as some pics show.

Views of the AN32
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1882.jpg

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1883.jpg

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1884.jpg

Kiran Mk - I, made by HAL from a British Design.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1885.jpg

Did someone say the Ambys were outdated? Nothing seems to be capable of replacing this fleet of gleaming examples.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1886.jpg

A Chetak - this one is not a Bajaj.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1887.jpg

The 'Surya Kirans' - as impressive on the ground as in the air.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1888.jpg

He does not seem too pleased that they are on the ground
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1889.jpg

The Boeing 737-200 from the IAF's VIP squadron with two VIPs in the foreground
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1890.jpg

Protocol demands that the line be as long as the wing! (Just joking)
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1891.jpg

Cheers,
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Old 29th June 2009, 02:37   #11
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Default Another set of pics

Here is another set of pics.

The Avro (aka HS 748) starts to roll, its engines emitting a shrill 'turbine shreik', this one is a part of the IAFs VIP squadron.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1894.jpg

The Mi8 sure beats a schoolbus. Mrs Hillram with Vijay & Mihiran
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1896.jpg

This was supposed to be a Family Photo but my superlative skills behind the camera .............. (sorry Mr. & Mrs. Hillram)
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1897.jpg

"The joystick is exactly like on the games consoles" Vijay & Mihiran get a feel of the Chetak's cockpit.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1898.jpg

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1899.jpg

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1900.jpg

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1901.jpg


The sleek 2 seater Hawk is just right for the 2 of us!

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1902.jpg

Don't mess with me - see all those neat things like guns and rockets backing me up?
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1903.jpg

If you guys have quite finished back there - I'd like to leave now.

Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1904.jpg
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Old 29th June 2009, 07:12   #12
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The Ambys look really cool. No gypsys?
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Old 29th June 2009, 08:47   #13
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Default more pics

To quote Pulsar56 - "Set 3":

Will someone please close the door so we can get rolling
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1905.jpg

Wow - that punkah is huge
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1906.jpg

"This is real chilled out man!"
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1908.jpg

Two buddies......
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1910.jpg

L - R: A HPT (piston trainer), Kiran Mk - I & Kiran Mk - II.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1912.jpg

The B737 leaving the ground - it has been ages since I was so close to a plane taking off, the power is truly awesome.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1892.jpg

This picture is here purely because I am a sucker for nostalgia. The Avro was the most common plane in the IA fleet and I have several fond memories of flights in them.
Drive to Dindigul Air Force Academy-100_1895.jpg

@ Bazius: I tried to take a pic of the reviewing Gypsy but my camera did not oblige.

@ Pulsar56, not just kids - even adults are allowed to climb into the planes and choppers. The only damper is that they do not give you the keys!

Cheers,

P.S. You guys can relax, that is the last lot of pics.
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Old 29th June 2009, 12:46   #14
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Nice pics and narration, HillRam and Ravveendraa
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Old 29th June 2009, 12:52   #15
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Quote:
@ Pulsar56, not just kids - even adults are allowed to climb into the planes and choppers. The only damper is that they do not give you the keys!


Beautiful pics and great write-up as usual!
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