Never before had there been so many elements in a single shaped formation, and this year will be a special one. Every five years, the skies over Padang will be filled with lines of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) aircraft, as they enters show centre for the military review. The air armada for SG50 will be bigger than ever since 1976, for the first time, 50 RSAF aircraft, including fighters, transport aircraft and helicopters from all operational squadron will take part in the flypast.
The highlight will be the ’50’ formation, formed by 20 F-16 C/D from the three F-16 squadrons (140/143/145 SQN).The Hornet flight forms only half of the epic 50.
Forming up 20 aircraft is no easy feat. Flight lead LTC Chan Ching Hao and his wingmen have to align themselves against each other, with another F16, known as ‘whip’ to adjust the formation via radio by observing from above. This is repeated on the “0” formations and they align themselves behind the “5” formation.
The Black Knights (BK) will be back again, after a three day performance at the Jubilee celebration, the BK will start the show with a tribute flypast, in memory of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
Mind you, 50 flying units in the tight Singapore airspace is no joke and they are shepherd by RSAF’s primary ATC unit, 203 Squadron. The squadron have the duty of launching and recovering the aircraft to South China Sea for their hold, separating them vertically and laterally with radar control. Although publicised to have 50 aircraft for the parade, actually flying units is in the excess of 55 including flying spares. The airspace is being utilised to its fullest.
On the show centre, the “Mother goose”, a forward air control, gives on the ground information and marshall the flight elements coming into Padang. Changi departure and arrivals are frozen during rehearsals and for the actual day, to facilitate the massive influx of aircraft entering and egressing Marina Bay. At the helm is Chairman Air Participation, or known as “Air Boss”, COL Francis Ngooi, Commander Transport Group. He is a veteran in large scale NDP air participation, having also directed the Air Part in 2010 and flew in one in 2005.
The RSAF has spent over months preparing and planning for the flypast, factoring contingencies like weather, secondary flight routes as well as utilising spare aircrafts in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
So every Saturday evening till Aug 9th, look up to the skies above you, as it is held up by the fine men and women from the RSAF. Join us at Marina Bay to witness the NDP 15 Air Participation.