Indian Air Force Academy E1P4 | Cadets Journey from Riding a Bicycle to Flying an Aircraft
Mudit might be dreaming of flying a fighter aircraft but here at the Academy, he needs to start with a cycle. Every candidate is issued one cycle to commute within the academy. Everyone has got their kit. The kit has PT and the squadron uniform but not the blue uniform. The kit has everything you need but the blue uniform has to be earned by yourself. And Mudit is very well aware of this fact. Meanwhile Kartik Thakur in Stage 2 flying. He is on a mission to catch up with the pending flying syllabus. He needs to finish his remaining flying hours. He has to prove that he is fit to fly again. Kartik is ready for this challenge. In the next 20 days he has to complete his remaining 40 sorties. If not, he would have to repeat this term again. He is under a lot of pressure. He needs to be on-point in his general handling and prove that he deserved the second chance. All his performances on sorties will be monitored closely. There is no room for mistakes at this stage. At the time of takeoff, there was an unknown fear in me. But as soon as I got airborne, everything was good. And I was enjoying it Because I always wanted to do this. I have flown 145 hours in Pilatus PC7 Mark II. This aircraft is amazing. Now I feel like this has become a part of my body. The satisfaction I get in flying that I can’t get anywhere else. Kartik did well in this sortie. But there are 39 more sorties remaining. And time is running out for him. All the induction procedures are complete and Mudit has begun his training at the Air Force Academy. Today he will enter the flight cadet mess for the first time. Fresh cadets will be training for 72 weeks before their air force dreams become a reality. For Mudit, that’s a long time away from home and his loved ones in an unfamiliar setup. Apart from training on the ground, faculties and the tarmac, Cadets spend a good amount of time in the Flight Cadets Mess. It starts from the day they land up here. Hundreds of fresher cadets arrive here together. The rooms are so allotted in a way that they live together and they create a bonding between them And this bonding continues throughout their service career. Flight Cadets Mess is commonly known as FCM. It is spread over a large area, having 500 rooms in total. My room number is K30 And it is way better than I had imagined. No sooner they land up here, first thing we do to them is we bifurcate them squadron wise Like in an organisation or a school, you have houses. Similarly, we have 4 squadrons here. The names of the squadrons are Aquino, Katre, Chitnis and Brar. They were the first four commandants of the Air Force Academy. While dividing them in squadrons, it is irrespective of their branch or department of service All squadrons have different names, different colour code, different flag. I am in Brar squadron. We call ourselves Brar Bisons. I am from Chitnis squadron. I am from Aquino Squadron. I am from Katre squadron whose color is green. I am a part of it now. Even though they are divided into squadrons, they all have the same goal. Serve the country! The cadets’ stay at the FCM comes with a long list of rules and regulations. Something Mudit needs to get used to in no time. No place has more rules and regulations to be followed than flying. It is a true test of multitasking. There are checks and procedures, general handling and constant communication with other agencies all happening at the same time! It’s like driving a car, while in traffic, while talking on the phone. The difference here is, it’s essential here while on the roads its illegal. We have a plastic cutout of the cockpit so we get the know what is the exact location of instruments are and where the switches are. So that when you are practising for it, there is a coordination between our hands and eyes. The cadets need to own the cockpit space and know the instruments like second nature. One crucial exercise that helps them do that is chair flying. For Priya and Amogh, the sole agenda of this exercise is to make the cockpit checks and procedures their muscle memory. It’s all virtual. You do each and every step. The only difference is that you are not actually sitting in the cockpit, you are imagining. You have the parameters in front of your eyes, they are moving, you are moving up and down and along with that your neck is moving. Doing all the movements, you are just imagining that you are sitting in the cockpit. So, when we are doing chair flying, that is basically like sitting on a sortie chair and you are flying it. It helps us to prepare for the real sorties And we are well aware about various instruments as well as switches. Chair Flying is absolutely crucial for cadets and they need to pass a test in order to advance to the next phase. It’s now time for both Amogh and Priya to take their imagination to the next level from chair to the cockpit. All the hours spent practising on the chair has lead them to this point. A big step forward, and one step closer to their dreams of flying.