The annual Air Fest which of Air Force Day celebrations started on Saturday

Shillong, October 01: The annual Air Fest which is held as part of Air Force Day celebrations kicked off yesterday at the Shillong ALG, conducted by the Eastern Air Command. Although yesterday was only a full dress rehearsal, the flypast could not go through due to inclement weather prevailing for the last couple of days. It kept drizzling until morning today and the cloud cover precluded any flypast till atleast noon time.

The rains however, could not lower the spirit of the people of Shillong and they started arriving at the ALG from 1000 hrs. As the rain spell broke later in the morning people started arriving in large numbers. The major attraction at the ALG was Mi-17 and the ALH helicopters on display and most visitors found themselves in the cockpit of the aircraft, happily clicking away at their cameras.

Another area that attracted the visitors in large numbers was the stall set up by the GARUD commandos of the Indian Air Force, wherein their special weapons and equipment were on display. Visitors were happily clicking selfies, posing as commandos, with weapons in their hands. Performances by the Air Force Band and the Air Warrior Drill Team left the spectators spell bound.

Many visitors were keen to know about the planned flypast by helicopters and the Sukhoi-30, about which they felt disappointed when told that it may not happen due to low clouds. The disappointment was soon reversed by afternoon when the sun broke clouds and a Mi-17 heptr flew past and carried out a landing.

This was followed by the flypast of a Su-30 MKI fighter. When the turn for the Indian Air Force ‘Air Devils’ skydiving team came to get airborne in the heptr, excitement was already at a high. But by the time the heptr reached overhead the ALG to drop them, clouds had once again moved in and the paradrop had to be aborted.

The heptr landed back and then carried out a slithering demonstration by the GARUD commandos, wherein they slithered down the rope from a heptr hovering at a low height. The demonstration by the commandos was barely over when it was announced that the Air Devils would be getting airborne as the cloud cover was once again lifting. The Air Devils finally did enthral the spectators by carrying out a scintillating display of aerial manoeuvring and perfect landing by each member of the team.

IAF had set up various stalls including those for publicity and military souvenirs. Food stalls were a hit, as always. The festival continues tomorrow which is also the final day.

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