As a proud Singaporean, I'm especially excited for this year's National Day Parade happening on the 9th August 2015 as this is also the year we turn 50 since our independence in 1965. Every year, I try my luck to ballot for tickets so as to catch the parade live, and even if I don't get any tickets, I'll make sure I sit right in front of the TV to catch the parade as well as performances.
Recently, I got to attend an exclusive preview of the NDP 2015 Air Participation segment held at the National Gallery Singapore and it sure made me excited to catch the entire NDP line-up this coming August! Since we're turning 50 this year, the air participation features 50 aircraft, which also happens to be the largest number of aircrafts to ever participate in NDP @ the Padang! Thankful for the clear skies which allowed for the preview and here are some shots I took of the impressive aerial formations and flypast!
"Five Stars" Tribute Aerial Flypast
This is the first formation we saw – the "Five Stars" Tribute Aerial Flypast, which is a tribute to the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Black Knights – led by LTC Joseph Leong, and features “Five Stars”, will execute the formation that signifies Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality. Yes, these are the very same five stars on Singapore's flag!
State Flag Flypast
Following which, we have the State Flag Flypast, a traditional aerial display every National Day Parade that takes place during the singing of the National Anthem. Personally, the State Flag Flypast has always been my favourite moment whenever I attend the National Day Parade as I just love being part of the sea of Singaporeans, singing the national anthem out loud and proud.
Salute to Nation – "50" Formation and Aerial Bomb-Burst
Pretty sure the Salute-to-Nation has got to be one of the best formations this year, aesthetically! Of course, the 50 represents how old Singapore turns this year – 50 years! Comprising of twenty F-16s, I'm certain this formation takes time and effort to reach perfection. The "50" formation will be led by LTC Chan Ching Hao, who also mentioned that speed plays an important role for this display. Not only that, this display also features a FEMALE fighter pilot, Major Lee Mei Yi, who will be participating in NDP for the first time. How cool is that!
Behind the "50" formation, you see an aerial bomb-burst comprising of six F-16s executed by the Black Knights. I absolutely love how the fan-out manoeuvre rounds off the "50" formation perfectly, almost like a firework celebration - aviation style.
Aerial Flypast – Combined Helicopter "Arrowhead" Formation
Other than the above formations, we were also treated to a delightful sight of aerial flypasts! Led by LTC Goh Ker Jia, the combined helicopter formation comprises of two S-70B naval helicopters, two AS-332 Super Pumas, two AH-64D Apaches and two Chinooks and will kick-start the entire aerial flypast with an arrowhead formation. I think this arrowhead formation is absolutely cool and kicks off the aerial flypast segment well, since arrowhead has a connotation of being swift and forward.
Aerial Flypast – 1 C-130 with 2 FK-50s in "VIC" Formation
Led by Major Lee Choon Hian Jeff, the "VIC" formation features one C-130 transport aircraft and two FK-50s (as seen above!), and they are accompanied by a KC-135 tanker aircraft together with a G550-Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, together with four F-5 fighter aircrafts flying in close formation.
Flying in this aerial flypast, we also have CPT Muhammad Iskandar as one of the F-5 pilots. CPT Iskandar mentioned how he first aspired to be a pilot after watching the aerial displays in NDPs as a child. It's amazing how aspirations get one far, isn't it? Maybe this year's fantastic aerial displays will also set some goals and aspirations for the young ones watching the NDP, who knows?
Aerial Flypast – "Criss Cross" Manoeuvre
There's nothing much I will say about this display because the photos show it all! The criss-cross manoeuvre by the Black Knights left me in awe. Just look at the smoke trail! Also, note that the two Black Knights in the middle are executing a near-vertical climb, say what!
Aerial Flypast – F-15SG Combat Turn
I wish I could have gotten proper photos / footage of the combat turn made by this solo F-15SG fighter aircraft! The pilot literally made a turn over Padang with a near-vertical climb, and that got me so nervous watching from the balcony of the National Gallery. The deafening roars of the fighter aircraft made it even more impressive! One more exciting reason to catch NDP this year!
Aerial Flypast – "Flat Burst" Manoeuvre
Last but not least, we have three F-15SGs to execute a "Flat Burst" manoeuvre, concluding the aerial display and the end of the air participation at this year's National Day Parade.
I can't be the only one looking forward to National Day Parade this year, right? With the impressive air participation this year comprising of 50 aircrafts, I can only expect the rest of the parade to be as exciting! As the Chairman of the Air Participation Committee, Colonel (COL) Francis Ngooi expresses his wishes to "make this year's NDP memorable and special for Singaporeans", I'm really sure this would be one of the best NDPs thus far, commemorating the nation's achievement in the past 50 years and celebrating our successes.
Happy 50th, Singapore! I am, and will always be a proud citizen.