Army’s ‘Batman’ spreads his wings, flies past sea link


India's lone wing suit flyer, lt colonel satyendra verma leaves spectators at know your army mela spellbound on sunday

AT 10,000 feet above the Arabian Sea, gliding past the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, the Indian Army's 'Adventure Skydiving Team' chose Mumbai to showcase the country's lone wing suit flyer.

Lt Col Satyendra Verma took "less than a minute" to cover the distance between the sea link and "the piece of sea", lashing at Mahim Bay in his "bat suit", before he opened his parachute above Shivaji Park at 4,000 feet.

A wing suit flyer is assisted by a fabric, specially designed as wings, and adding surface between the hands and legs, to allow the flyer to take the gait of a bird.

The seven-minute feat by the team, which ended at Shivaji Park — the venue of 'Know Your Army Mela' — had Verma leading a core team of Lt Col Prashant Kapoor and Lt Col Amitabh Valvalkar. They were supported by Lance Naik Devinder Singh, paratroopers Pankaj Kumar and Arun Kumar.

They have 2,650 skydives across India and abroad to their credit. "This was the first time we were showcasing wing suit flying along with skydiving in India to the general public. It is also the first time that it was done above water," said Verma.

The aerial exercise saw the divers jump from a height of 10,000 feet above the Arabian Sea, in uniform gaps, with the wind direction towards Dadar. Verma chose to wait a minute after the last diver had jumped from 'Dhruv', the Army's advanced light helicopter.

"On Saturday, I jumped right above Bandra-Worli Sea link. On Sunday, the helicopter went a little beyond and into the sea," he says. "The wing suit essentially has a few air pockets that grab air and give the flyer a slight lift," explains Valvalkar.

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