On way to Aero show, 1st trainer aircraft does a Pune sortie

Enroute Yelahanka airbase in Bangalore where it will perform sorties at the Aero India 2013 next month, Indian Air Force's (IAF) first trainer aircraft the Tiger Moth halted in the city on Wednesday. As a veteran pilot rightly called it the 'grandfather' of the fifth generation Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft, the aircraft along with Sukhoi-30 MKI did a sortie giving a visual treat to people gathered at the Lohegaon airbase.

The de Havilland DH 82 Tiger Moth, a 1930s biplane, is the only in the country and has taken to skies after a gap of almost 23 years, post 1989 when it last flew in a vintage aircraft rally. The wooden 'bird' —restored by five technicians who worked on it for over two years —made flight with the help of IAF's vintage flight unit. The Tiger Moth flown by Wing Commander H Kulshrestha and Group Captain D S Dangi left the Hindon airbase on January 19. After travelling over 2000 km at a speed of about 100 nautical miles and flying strictly for just two hours a day, the Tiger Moth is expected to reach Bangalore by Thursday or Friday.

"Seeing the Tiger Moth is like seeing an old girlfriend," said Air Marshal (retd) S S Ramdas who narrated how in the late '50s he would travel to Jalandhar on a cycle just to fly the aircraft.

The yellow wooden frame of the aircraft shone against the metallic fuselage of one of the most modern aircraft of the IAF — Su-30 MKI. But the old, vintage beauty did not take centrestage without its own fancies. It took almost 10-15 minutes for the technicians to start the front propeller of the aircraft manually. But once it started, the aircraft surely stole the show despite having a tough competitor in mighty Sukhoi. The IAF 2 Wing created a spectacular display as the vintage aircraft was accompanied by two vintage cars — a Ford Model of 1928 and an MG. The modern Su- 30 MKI was escorted by a Jaguar XJL.

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