The Sarang Helicopter Display Team has evolved from the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Evaluation Flight, which was formed at Bengaluru in 2003, to evaluate the indigenous helicopter ‘Dhruvʼ, prior to its induction into operational service. True to its name the ALH has been a guiding beacon, standing out like the Pole star in the Indian Aviation sector.
Designed and conceived by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Dhruv is an all-weather, multi-mission capable helicopter. Notably, it features rigid, hinge- less rotors making it highly maneuverable and highly suited for military roles. The evaluation paved way for the formation of an aerobatic display team with an aim to showcase the professionalism of the Indian Air Force and the milestones achieved by the Indian Aviation Industry. In June 2004, the Flight was converted into 151 Helicopter Unit and the fledgling team was rechristened ‘Sarangʼ, which in Sanskrit, means Peacock, the National bird of India. The synchronized aerial ballet of four brightly painted metal birds draws comparisons with the graceful Peacock! The Unit moved to Yelahanka and subsequently to Sulur, near Coimbatore in 2009, where it has been based since.
As “Brand Ambassadors of the Indian Air Force”, the Team was tasked with the onerous responsibility to build upon and showcase its display flying capabilities. The Team set the ball rolling with its maiden public display at the Asian Aerospace Airshow in Singapore in Feb 04. Having won rave reviews from the Asian Aerospace fraternity, the Team performed at Chile in Jun 04. Sarang Display Team was adjudged the “Third Best Team” among all international participants, in United Arab Emirates during its performance at ‘Al Ainʼ Grand Prix. More laurels followed, with the Team being adjudged the ‘Best Looking Close Formation Aerobatic Teamʼ in the Indo- German Air show at Berlin in May 08. The Team has also participated in the Air shows at Waddington, Biggin Hill and RAF Linton-on-Ouse in the United Kingdom, followed by a display at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of RAF. Other international displays include the renowned Farnborough Air show in 2008, Bahrain International Air show held at Al Sakhir Air Base in Jan 2016 and the air display at Mauritius in March 2018 on the occasion of their 50th national day. Apart from displays at International venues, Sarangs have been regularly touring the length and breadth of the country. The Team has featured regularly at Aero India Air show in Bengaluru, apart from gracing ceremonial occasions such as Air Force Day celebrations in Hindan, Graduation Parades at Air Force Academy Dundigal and the Fire Power Demonstration in Pokharan, amongst various other displays. Displays have also been flown during the Presidential Fleet Review, Navy Day, World Military Games, Commonwealth Youth games and ceremonial occasions concerning our sister services. As part of IAFʼs public awareness campaign, the Team aims to motivate the youth of the country to take up a challenging and fulfilling career in the Indian Armed Forces and towards this it has conducted displays at Public venues. Vibrant Gujarat campaign in 2006, Display at Marine Drive Mumbai in 2008, Pasighat in Arunachal in 2014 and Biju Patnaik Centenary celebrations in Bhubaneshwar in 2016 are a few worth mentioning.
Apart from the primary role involving Display Flying, the Unit serves as an instrument to project our national power. Among various op-roles the Unit has participated in several operations towards Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR). The Team was at the forefront of HADR missions in Uttarakhand during the flash floods of 2013, wherein the Unit helicopters rescued close to 1000 people and inducted 12 tonnes of relief material at altitudes in excess of 10,000 feet in inclement weather and hazardous terrain. The Unit has also been involved in providing succour to the people affected by flooding in its area of responsibility from time to time; rescue and relief operations in Chennai, Dindigul, Tirupathi and Nellore are a few worth mentioning. In the recent past, the team was one of the first responders for HADR missions during the Cyclone Okhi in Dec 17 and during the tragic forest fires in Theni in Mar 18. The devastating floods in Kerala in Aug 18 tested the mettle of the team yet again. The team deployed eight helicopters to rescue over 320 civilians and to drop over 77 tonnes of relief material in aid of the people of Kerala.
While it is natural to expect daring manoeuvres and precise formation by fixed wing aircraft, it is notably difficult to do the same in helicopters owing to the unstable nature of rotary wing flying. One would find a handful of helicopter display teams across the globe and this makes the Sarang Helicopter Display Team so unique. Display flying involves walking the thin line between bravery and foolhardiness. While manoeuvring in close proximity to three other rotor discs in close proximity of ten meters, there is no room for error. Moreover to demand the very best out of this beautiful machine and coax her to give that extra bit in display flying, the Team needs the best pilots on offer. Therefore only those pilots who are selected after a rigorous selection process, make the cut from a large number of volunteers. The skills and temperament required for display flying are acquired and honed through rigorous training, confidence in oneʼs own flying ability and the faith in his/her team members.
The team is led by Gp Capt Sachin Anand Gadre who is an Experimental Test Pilot.
The Team endeavors to evolve continuously and the display profile being flown by the Team has been an integral part of this growth. The Team flies a 15 minute four helicopter display profile which involves the following manoeuvres:-
(a) Entry in wineglass formation
(b) India or Line Astern formation
(c) Diamond formation
(d) Synchronised Stall Turn/ Dolphinʼs Leap (Signature Manoeuvre of the Team)
(e) Cross Over Break
(f) Double Arrow Cross
(g) Level Mesh
(h) Level Cross
(i) Pair Manoeuvres
(k) Sarang Split
The team is elated to perform at Baroda as part of the Air Force Day 2019 celebrations. It is the Endeavour of the Team to live up to the Unit motto “Inspire through Excellence” and motivate the youth of the nation to join Indian Air Force.
Source: Public Relations Office