Saturday, August 1, 2015

National Day Parade NDP 2015 F-16 flypast

Jubilee flight: No prizes for guessing how many years Singapore has been independent. Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16s practice their Salute to the Nation during the National Education 3 show on 25 July 2015.

Among the aerial tributes at the upcoming National Day Parade 2015, the Five-O formation by the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is probably the most sought-after by photo buffs.

The crowd-pleaser by the RSAF's F-16 community is a difficult manoeuvre to perform because the flight of 20 aircraft have to fly at precise intervals to form each numeral. What's more, both numbers must follow one another properly in order for the typography to look neat from the ground - and the Five-O must arrive at show centre at the precise moment and clear the airspace over the Padang along the proper heading without delay before the six F-16s from the Black Knights aerobatic display team perform their fan break manoeuvre.

Difficult enough to execute in clear weather, the presence of low clouds, the glare from the setting sun and unpredictable winds demand a high level of concentration and flying skills from the F-16 pilots.

The twenty-ship formation forms up over the approaches to the Singapore Strait and holds formation while inbound for Singapore's city centre. During the flight towards the Padang, an additional F-16 tails the fighter formation (perhaps giving cues to tighten the formation's dressing) before peeling off and flying eastward.

What appears to be a neat "50" when seen from the ground is less apparent from the air. Look at the pilot's eye view below.

Kudos to the RSAF engineers and ground crew for maintaining a high level of serviceability. Their effort and dedication is a key enabler for such formations.

And now a word from the RSAF Helicopter community: To fly is heavenly. To hover, divine.


HC said...

David, are you privy to the reason on why they choose to fly a vertical 50 and not a more natural looking 50? I hope the reason is not 'because its easier'.

David Boey said...

Hi HC,
Here's what was reported by the Today newspaper, 18 June 2015:
"For example, just deciding the ideal placement of the “5” and the “0” — adjacent or at a diagonal — was a process in itself. The final decision was to fly the “5” and “0” in a trail-in formation, said Flight Lead Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Chan Ching Hao, 33, as it provided the best view for audiences."

I wasn't at the NDP Flypast media preview. But I've seen the "25" formation flown by 25 A-4SU Super Skyhawks in 1990 to mark 25 years of independence when I served my NS with MINDEF's PAFF (many Saturdays were burnt with media duty during the combined rehearsals). That formation was done in landscape format. There was no Marina Bay Sands and no height restrictions posed by skyscrapers at the financial centre and condos like The Sail. So the air corridor was wider in 1990.

I agree with LTC Chan that the portrait format trail-in formation works better for the "50".

Hope you enjoy the online live telecast on 9 Aug'15! :)

HC said...

Looks like a first worldwide for a portrait format double character formation. I think it would have looked better in landscape. Like how the RAF did ERII and 60 for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Anyway, lots of skill needed. Good job getting the onboard photo to show us!

A4ATCSTC said...

Hmm I'm wondering why they didn't carry on/ restart certain NDP initiatives from previous years/ initiate other seemingly possible ones...

1) Mobile Column in the heartlands, done in 2010 with 3 routes into various housing estates. This year it's a small convoy going around the Marina Bay.

2) A380 flypast flanked by our F5/F16/F15s, as is common in other countries.

3) A more comprehensive bay light up, using external lighting to light up buildings which don't have lights already installed, similar to one of the previous NDPs. (The current one features a very obvious 'dead spot' in the middle of the CBD)

4) Aerial flypast over more areas of Singapore (Like an aerial mobile column), which would involve slightly longer closure of Changi, but would have greater community involvement too.