ISLAMABAD: Flying as low 500 feet, elite pilots of the Pakistan Air Force put on a breathtaking air show this Defence Day.
The show was a massive event for the entire family, and people lined rooftops across the city to watch their maneuvers.
The largest gathering was at the designated site in Fatima Jinnah Park, where parents brought their children to watch the exhilarating displays by airmen.
Nearly everyone was holding up cameras and binoculars, all in an attempt to get a better view of the flyboys in action.
First to take to the skies were Wing Commander Mohammad Omar and Squadrom Leader Bilal Salim, shooting flares from their aircraft, whose engines roared as they passed overhead, prompting a smiliar roar of approaval from teh expectant audience.
Wing Commander Shehryar Shahi impressed everyone with his performance in the Super Mashaak, and Wing Commander Mohammad Amjad led the team of Sherdils in their K-8 jets as they performed barrel rolls, wing overs, and loop-the-loop maneuvers before breaking away from their wingtip-to-wingtip formation into a crowd pleasing ‘bomb burst’.
Wing Commander Usman Ali piloted his JF-17 aircraft down to 500 feet. Painted in the colours of the national flag, the Thunder jet performed turns with inverted flying and a high altitude pass, finishing off with a vertical roll before disappearing high above the clouds.
According to Group Captain Ahmer Raza, the pilot pulled at least 7 to 9Gs during those maneuvers.
“This means that if the pilot’s arm weighs half a kilogramme normally, in a 7G dive, the pull of gravity increases seve-fold, meaning that the same arm would weigh three and a half kilograms, making it much harder to operate the switches in the cabin,” Raza said.
But the crowd favourite was Wing Commander Azman Khalil’s F-16, who flew in below 500 feet and amazed the audience with stunts like the max rate turn, loops, and the Cuban 8, followed by the muscle climb with his after burners on.
Those on the rooftops of Park Towers and the Mustafa Towers in Sector F-10 seemed to have the best seats in town.
“It was a fantastic experience to enjoy with the family,” Khizer Hussain said.
The performances were followed by paragliding displays and soldiers suspended on ropes from a helicopter, and paratroopers jumping out of C-130s high above the capital. As they parachuted down to earth, they released colourful smoke trails and landed amidst the crowd gathered in Fatima Jinnah Park.
A performance by a helicopter pilot featuring sharp turns and backward flying also amazed the crowd.
The show ended with Wing Commander Noman Ali Khan in his F-16, pulling up fast and shooting flares and bursts similar, as a salute to those who lost their lives in the 1965 Indo-Pak war.
Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2015