08 Maret 2012
F-15SG (photo : Martin Eadie)
Fighter aircraft roaring through the skies at high speeds, barely metres apart. Arrow-straight vertical climbs slicing through 10,000 feet (3,084m) of air in under 10 seconds. All this time, your ears are hearing the signature scream of jet-engines thrusting the fighters through the air.
These are just some of the sights and sounds which visitors to this year's Singapore Airshow will be able to catch during the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF's) aerial display. It is the first time the RSAF is fielding its recently acquired F-15SG fighter aircraft, together with its F-16C fighter aircraft at the show.
A perennial crowd-pleaser at the airshow, the RSAF aerobatics team will showcase the power and agility of the two fighter aircraft, with a combination of solo performances and integrated manoeuvres during its 14-minute aerial display segment which will see the pilots execute 13 manoeuvres.
It is during the Integrated Inverted Mirror Pass manoeuvre that the two fighter aircraft will come within metres of each other. To add to the complexity, the F-16C will be flying upside-down above the twin-engined F-15SG.
"Inverted flight poses its own challenges. Blood rushes to the head while I still have to monitor all the parameters and pilot the aircraft," said Major (MAJ) Desmond Too, 35, who will be flying the F-16C during the aerial display. He will stay inverted for about 15 seconds during that manoeuvre.
Added MAJ Yip Chuang Syn, 33, who will be piloting the F-15SG fighter aircraft: "In everything we do, there is always a certain element of risk. During training, we take all safety aspects into consideration and all our manoeuvres are, in fact, very safe."
"It's safe, but it's also close enough to give the audience a 'wow' experience!" quipped MAJ Yip. The two pilots have clocked more than 3,000 flying hours between them.
The aerial display will end on a literal high note, as the two pilots steer their aircraft skywards in a straight climb called the Vertical Punch manoeuvre.
Speaking of the challenges in executing the move, MAJ Too said: "While going pure vertical, we lose sight of the ground and orientate via our flight instruments while pulling about five to six Gs."
When pilots execute aggressive high speed manoeuvres such as the Vertical Punch, they are subject to extreme gravitational forces. Apart from being uncomfortable, these G-forces can cause blood to rush away from the brain to the pilot's lower extremities, inducing what aeromedical experts call a gravity-induced loss of consciousness.
On the ground, RSAF commentator Military Expert (ME) Ganisen s/o Subramaniam will talk the audience through what the pilots are doing in the air. "We are the ones that connect the audience to the show in the air. The show is very synchronised; when we make a commentary on the ground, the pilots are executing the manoeuvres simultaneously in the air."
In preparation for the show, the team has been training together since November last year. Said MAJ Yip: “The times spent with each other, training together and getting accustomed to each other's flying styles, has given us the confidence to execute the manoeuvres well."
It is not just an individual effort, as the team is supported by ground crew and other support staff. In total, MAJ Too estimated that more than 100 RSAF personnel have come together to bring this aerial display to reality.
The biennial Singapore Airshow is in its third instalment this year and it is the largest aerospace and defence event in Asia. Happening over a period of six days from 14 Feb at the Changi Exhibition Centre.
The show will be open to trade visitors only for the first four days. Apart from the aerial displays, visitors will also be able to catch the latest and newest in aviation technology at the Singapore Airshow 2012 static display areas.
Over the weekend of 18 to 19 Feb, the show will be open to the public, from 9.30am to 5pm daily. Tickets for adults are priced at $20, while entry for children below the age of 12 will cost $8. There is also a family package, inclusive of four entry passes and a carpark label, priced at $120.