Thursday, July 3, 2014

NDP 2014 - Power, Precision and Passion

I’ve had several juvenile misconceptions cleared over the weekend.  Every year, there would be the awe-inspiring, thundering aerial flypast by the fighter jets during Singapore’s National Day Parade. I've always assumed that:

Photo Credit

1) Due to the small air space that Singapore has, surely our government would have asked our friendly neighbours in Malaysia and Indonesia for some leeway into THEIR airspace so that OUR FIGHTER JETS can execute their maneuvers well.  2) These top fighter pilots who execute these well-timed flypast must certainly be appointed and 3) There would be a big red button inside the cockpits that says ‘Start’ so that pilots can scramble off real fast to defend the country.

As it turns out, the answer is ‘No’ to my three silly assumptions. Well, ‘Yes and No’ for number 2 at least. Allow me to explain:

As part of NDP2014 Preview, we were honoured to have the chance to meet the fine Air Force pilots and their powerful machines that will give us the traditional aerial flypast. Being the plane buff that I am, I was awestruck.

Wow! Not sure who is the child here - the Daddy or the daughter...standing behind the actual F15SG which will execute the flypast.

Firstly, Precision.  Major Nick ‘Dino’ Wong, leader of the aerial flypast shared with us the challenges in executing immaculate flypast during the parade – wind, weather and delays as well as their personal expectation of a symmetrical flypast with a mere 3 feet allowance between wingtips while flying at near supersonic speeds.

Precision carved out of hours and days of additional practice to tame the power of these jets. All these challenges well within the small airspace of Singapore. A few seconds' delay in the parade proceedings will see each pilot doing quick mental calculations at supersonic speed to recalibrate with each other to realign their positions for that perfect flypast all well within our own airspace. Stressful to say the least but so much pride in giving the nation the best aerial salute!

Every second counts in this aerial salute.
All lined-up and ready to roll. Photo Credit: RSAF

Secondly, Passion. These pilots, though best of the best among their peers, had to volunteer to be part of the flypast (as along with it comes additional training and risks involved). It’s heartwarming to know that each year, they would have a long list of pilots who volunteers for this daunting and demanding task. Even after volunteering, these pilots had to be put through a stringent selection process before being finally appointed!

Knowing all the commitment they had to put in, it was truly inspiring to be able to interact with these fighter pilots. Despite having the honour to be the RSAF’s elite, they are, in person, humble, down-to-earth blokes who desire to give back to the country with the talents and abilities the country has invested in them.

Pilots, Planes and the Princess. A truly memorable learning journey.
These are the amazing men that fly those magnificent machines.

You can literally feel the passion as they shared with us why they do what they do. What’s even more touching is to know that the RSAF plans the schedules of their training exercise to minimize disruptions to the residents living close by. How reassuring to know that, our Air Force (like our Navy) have their priorities right - it’s never about the Power of the machines, it’s always about the people they serve to defend.

As evening descends, we witnessed the pilots suit up and ready one of the F15SG for the NDP rehearsal at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. Though my earplugs had blocked out the loud jet sounds, it made me hear the excitement of my own heartbeat even louder. To top it off, we waved off the F15SGs and saw them roll down the runway and up into the evening sky.

Never have I imagined I would see the real thing right before my eyes.
From hanger... the runway... (Photo Credit: RSAF)
...and off they go to wow the crowd! Photo Credit: RSAF

Although our children are born and/or bred in Singapore, it does not automatically mean that they grow up appreciative of their country. Loyalty to one's family and homeland, like many good values, are caught not taught, hence best role-modeled by parents (and other significant others like teachers).  So during this National Day, when you watch the aerial flypast, tell your children the stories of these men, their heart for the country and most importantly, tell YOUR story about how being a Singaporean has made all the difference. Power? Precision? No. Passion above all else.

Happy Birthday Singapore!

This is NOT kid's play...this is the real deal: sitting in the cockpit of an F15SG fighter plane.
Thank you RSAF for the awe-inspiring experience.

If  you wish to bring your families to catch the NDP aerial flypast action, check out the official NDP 2014: Our People, Our Home website for rehearsal dates, traffic advisory and other information.


Dorothea Chow said...

I was really touched by this insightful post. This year's NDP will definitely hold more meaning for our family! :)

mummybean said...

What an experience to get up close and personal with the planes, and yes, the wonderful pilots who fly them! It is indeed the people who make the difference. Wishing them all the best for the NDP!