Sunday 21 June 2015

NDP 2015: 'Ballet in the sky' by 50 aircraft for National Day Parade

Biggest fleet in almost 40 years to wow with various aerial displays
By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent, The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2015

FIFTY aircraft will dazzle crowds at this year's National Day Parade (NDP) - the biggest fleet to appear at the Aug 9 show in almost 40 years.

More than 10 types of aircraft from the Republic of Singapore Air Force will soar over Marina Bay and the Padang during the golden jubilee parade to perform a four-minute aerial ballet. They will include F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, a C-130 transport plane, Fokker 50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and S-70B naval helicopters.

RSAF Black Knights Golden Jubilee Airshow

The only time there were more than 50 aircraft staging an aerial display was at the 1976 parade.

Majulah Singapura - Air Force Style
If you haven't heard... We have something truly special for you this NDP 2015! You can expect to see the '5-Stars' and '50' tribute aerial flypasts among other formations! Check out this special sneak preview of our awesome flypasts! But of course, nothing beats seeing and hearing all our 50 aircraft on the actual day come 9 August!! Majulah Singapura!!!!!!!!!And if you're planning to catch the action on the Saturdays to come, don't forget to snap some photos and submit them to our Facebook page!NDPeeps Singapore50 #SG50 #SAF50 #NDP2015
Posted by The Republic of Singapore Air Force on Thursday, June 18, 2015

Also aiming to wow spectators will be ace pilots from the RSAF's aerobatics team, the Black Knights.

Five Black Knights will kick off the NDP show and fly in a "five stars" formation in an aerial salute to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died aged 91 on March 23.

The formation represents the national ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

The heart-stopping aerobatics will include precision manoeuvres such as 20 F-16 jets forming the number 50 and vertical climbs.

With planes flying over the Padang - the NDP's main venue - in 20- to 30-second intervals, orchestrating the fleet will be made more challenging by the congested airspace over the Central Business District and its skyscrapers.

The parade's air participation chairman Francis Ngooi has been planning the aerial display since April last year.

"What we have come up with is the most impactful and optimal composition (of aircraft) for the crowd to enjoy," he said.

Before their performance, all the planes will hover over the South China Sea or the Southern Islands, stacked up in six layers, reaching a height of up to 14,000 feet above sea level.

"For some planes performing more than two manoeuvres, they will have to circle back and join the queue," Colonel Ngooi said.

Among the pilots who have been perfecting their routines since last month is Major Lee Mei Yi, 30, who will be the first female fighter pilot to perform at the parade.

One of a handful of female fighter pilots in the air force, she said: "It's added significance for myself... There's a growing community of female pilots and female fighter pilots, so I'm not the only one. Hopefully, in the future, we might be able to see more."

Spectators can also catch two fireworks shows at the Padang and Marina Barrage and a convoy of more than 160 war machines.

Col Ngooi said he had been hoping to land this year's organising job before he retires from the air force later this year.

The 49-year-old, who has flown in and coordinated NDP aerial displays in 2005, 2010 and 2012, said: "I'm glad to be selected again... It's momentous and I hope to make it the best."

Additional reporting by Linette Lai

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Woman fighter pilot to make history
She is part of group forming the number 50 in flypast at NDP
By Linette Lai, The Straits Times, 19 Jun 2015

AUG 9, 2015 is set to be forever etched in the memory of fighter pilot Lee Mei Yi as an historic day, both for Singapore as well as herself.

She will be the first woman to fly in the fighter jet formation at the National Day Parade for the nation's 50th anniversary.

Twenty F-16 fighter jets will form the number 50 as they fly over the Padang, and Major Lee, 30, will be in one of them.

The hardest part will be to come as close as 18m from the plane in front of hers when they form the number, she said.

"It's close formation flying, so it's something we will practise to make sure we can fly accurately, in the right position.

"Since May, we have stepped up the training to make sure that we have sufficient practice."

Even though the flypast lasts just a few seconds for the spectators in the stands, some of whom will count it as their favourite moment of the parade, there are many months of hard work and preparation behind it.

The manoeuvre was first tested on flight simulators, then with a few aircraft, and finally with the full group, flight lead Lieutenant-Colonel Chan Ching Hao told reporters on Tuesday.

"There are 20 aircraft in close proximity, so we have to do a fair bit of training in order to make sure that everyone has the comfort and team chemistry to execute this manoeuvre," he said.

After take-off, the team will form up loosely over the South China Sea, moving into a tighter formation as they approach Singapore.

Another aircraft will fly above the group as they make their way towards the Padang, making sure the formation is in order, but will depart in a different direction before the planes come into view.

Said LTC Chan: "His role is very important as well, even though he's an unsung hero."

The team trains once or twice a week on top of its usual operations, and has put in a few hundred hours of flight time. The pilots have successfully carried out the flypast 10 times so far.

LTC Chan's role is to take charge of all inflight decisions, including regulating the team's speed and making sure that all of them arrive at precisely the right time

"As a flight lead, it's important to... make the speed changes as predictable as possible to minimise the ripple effect," he said.

With the planes flying at 600kmh, a difference in speed of 1kmh or 2kmh in the lead will become obvious in the rest of the formation.

The #NDP2015 rehearsals have begun! You may have spotted our participants making their way from the holding area at...
Posted by NDPeeps on Sunday, June 21, 2015


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