A trip whose description can only involve superlatives, an afternoon most of us (kids & volunteers included) aren’t going to forget in a hurry and a very satisfying day for the volunteers and loads of gratitude and love for the men and women of the Indian Air force, for doing what it is that they do !!
And man oh man did it HAPPEN !!! This was a happening trip from the word go. We got a call on Thursday from Gp. Capt Ashutosh Lal, who’s been a big well wisher of MAD, that he was being transferred and that he wanted to bring the kids over to the station as he had made a promise to them, and that started the MAD rush to put things in place !!
Frantic calls to the centers to get permission, to find buses, to get the budget approved, and to find volunteers for the trip, followed by frantic calls to ensure everyone knew what it is that they had to do, and oo la la a whole lot of excitement !!
I’d also like to state here that Gp. Capt Ashutosh Lal is a limited series edition !! They don’t make too many like him these days !! He is truly MAD and I hope that in some way or the other he will always be a part of the MAD family !! A special token of thanks to him for letting us in and showing us a day in the life of an Air force officer. He definitely helped inspire our kids.
So at 1430 hours, kids were loaded in the buses, classes cancelled , volunteers doing multiple headcounts and off we went !! 4 buses from 4 centers taking different routes tasked with the one mission of assembling at the Air force station gate at 16:00 hours sharp and I can proudly state that the last bus got there no later than 15:30 hours.
And finally the moment arrived and we entered the gates for an experience that would hopefully inspire some of our kids to go get wings !! A couple of stops at checkpoints and we got off the bus. We were parked right next to the runway and right then a Surya Kiran taxied past us, engine roaring , screaming to take off and conquer the skies where it belonged and of course the kids went crazy!!
With some screaming and shouting to get ourselves heard, we got the kids queued up and off we went to get a closer look at the magnificent machines.
Our first stop was one of the training runways of the station. We witnessed the training aircraft (Surya Kiran Mk II) and helicopters (Chetak) being flown by the Air force cadets . The kids were briefed on the different types of helicopters and aircraft used by the Indian Air force and they listened with utter excitement!
The kids were then taken close to the runway to give them a close look at the take-offs, the landings and the pilots in the cockpit of the aircrafts!! The roar of the engines during take-offs and the planes flying overhead at a stones throw distance ( literally!) didn’t just make the Kids go crazy..It made the volunteers go mad too! We stood there and saw several planes and helicopters fly around with awe and admiration.
The kids were so engrossed looking at all the action that it took almost twenty minutes and a lot of pestering to get them away from the runway to the next stop!! Our next stop was the hanger of the Air force station.
It was there that two Air force officers and Gp. Capt. Ashutosh Lal briefed us on the various technicalities of the airplanes and helicopters. One of the officers was a lady named Capt. D’souza. She was telling the girls how they could also be a part of the defense services.
The news that they can also be a part of our defense services and fly these gorgeous aircraft evoked wows from the girls. Mr. Karthik who works on the technical side, gave us a briefing on the technical jargon involved, the number of fighter jets we have and the G-force a pilot encounters when flying etc; every one listened to him in rapt attention!
The kids and the volunteers became curious and started asking various questions about the Air force, the machines, the pilots and the uniform ( Abou actually asked if he could lay his hands on a jumpsuit to impress the ladies).
The kids then inquired about the various positions they could apply to in the Air force and the ways in which they could join the Air force. Some even asked about the army and the navy and about their chances to join those services.
We stood there and saw the last few helicopters landing and parking at the hanger at the end of the day’s training. That meant that our visit was coming to a close and that it was time for us to go home.
It wasn’t too hard to get the kids on the buses as they were quite exhausted after the day’s excitement. So all of us got into our designated buses and sped past the Indian Air force Station.
The kids were a happy bunch after seeing what it takes to be a part of the Indian Air force and were talking about what they want to become when they grow up. Some wanted to become pilots while others wanted to work for the companies that produced these aircraft.
Some wanted to work as ground crew because they thought signaling was more interesting. This is what we wanted at the end of the day and the trip delivered exactly what was needed! The kids got to know the opportunities lying ahead of them in the field of aviation – the placements team passed with flying colors!
P.S: We could not capture any photos of the event as we were not allowed to take cameras or mobiles into the station. But talk to any of the guys present there and you’ll know that the scenes are still etched in their memories!
Lest I forget to mention, the evening ended on a sweet note thanks to the “frooti” packs given to the kids and the volunteers – all at the expense of the Indian Air force!
So all in all it was a satisfying experience for all of us at MAD! And all of you who wish you could have been there… Just dream on!! :P