Srinagar air show makes a comeback after 14 years, captivates people

Srinagar: The skies over Srinagar roared on Sunday morning with fighter jets and Chinook helicopters exhibiting adrenaline-pumping manoeuvres at an air show conducted after 14 years here.

The air show organised by the Air Force Station, Srinagar and the government is part of the ongoing ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, officials said.

The IAF’s Akash Ganga skydiving and Suryakiran Aerobatic Display teams took part in it.

The main aim of the show, under the theme of ‘Give Wings to Your Dream’, was to raise awareness among the youth of the Kashmir Valley and motivate them to join the Indian Air Force and to promote tourism in the region, they said.

The event was witnessed by hundreds of school children and people from across the valley at the Sher-e-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) overlooking the Dal Lake here. It was flagged off by J-K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

The event started with the oldest fighter jets of the IAF — MiG 21s — flying over the famous Dal Lake and past the enthusiastic audience at SKICC.

The four MiG 21 fighter jets roaring in the sky presented a salute in right turn to the dais as they flew past, receiving a thundering applause from the audience.

It was followed by IAF’s Akash Ganga skydiving team, which performed exciting manoeuvres with its pilots jumping out of the aircraft.

The 10-member team led by Squadron Leader Aftab Khan performed thrilling moves achieving a 120 kmph speed as it moved towards the ground.

As the team members opened their parachutes and displayed various formations, the Indian national flag, the IAF flag, and the Akash Ganga flag rippled in the sky. The team, which has various national and international records to its name, also formed a three-man tricolour formation in air.

After the skydiving team, it was the turn of three Sukhoi Su-30 MKI jets to claim the sky. People were mesmerized to see the jets smoking and roaring in the sky in ‘Trishul’ formations and tumbling, rolling, and spinning over the Dal Lake.

The aircraft displayed complex but sophisticated heroics including flying in reverse-gear and rolling right and left even as the bowl was small with hills on both sides. Showing its grace, poise, and power, the jets turned quickly at low speeds over the lake.

With a loop-tumble-yaw and then a vertical Charlie manoeuvre, the jets danced in sky firing flares before disappearing over the mountains.

Later, it was time to paint the sky red and white as a nine-aircraft Suryakiran Aerobatic Display team ripped through it performing synchronous aerobatic maneuvers for 15 minutes straight.

Their arrow formation, diamond formation, Gaganyan formation, fulcrum formation, and barrel roll enthralled the audience which kept its eyes peeled to the sky.

The team has carried over 500 displays in 75 cities across the country.

In the second part of their performance, the team brought thrill closer to the ground — only 30 metres above it and performed manoeuvres that gave the audience goosebumps.

Towards the end, they made a heart-shaped formation with a smoke-trail that got a huge round of applause from the people.

Then it was the turn of the mighty twin-engine Boeing Chinook CH-47 heavy-lift helicopters. They were the showstoppers of the event as they flew over the ‘Char-Chinar’ — the four famous Chinar in the middle of the Dal Lake.

The mighty military helicopters came close to the ground near the audience, and saluted the dais while the water below in the lake was fomented with the brute force of the two rotors.

The audience was left captivated watching the water dance below the helicopters as they pulled curtains to the over-an-hour-long show.

Elaborate arrangements, including those related to security, were put in place for the smooth conduct of the air show.

An IAF symphony orchestra display and motivational photo exhibition on the history of the IAF were also part of the show.

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