Round the World Trip-world record set by IAF
20] HINDON, Uttar Pradesh, India-- Two intrepid Indian Air
Force (IAF) pilots flew in here yesterday after creating two new
world records for circumnavigating the globe in a microlight aircraft.
IAF pilots Wg.Cdr. Anil Kumar (left) and Rahul Monga with Chief
of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal F.H. Major (centre), after creating
a record by completing the microlight expedition, at Hindon Air
Force station near Delhi on Sunday.Photo: Rajeev Bhatt
Flying over 16 countries and touching 81 destinations,
Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar completed their journey
in 80 days, shaving 19 days off the existing mark of 99 days held
by Britain’s Colin Bodil since 2001.
The 300-kg microlight plane covered a distance
of 40, 497 kilometres over varied terrain ranging from plains, dense
forests, deserts and seas.
They also bettered Bodil’s airspeed record of
16.53km per hour by recording 21.09km.
Asked about the experience, Monga said, "it was
thoroughly enjoyable. We got to meet different people from varied
cultures. It was a good gesture from all the countries who supported
us, including Pakistan."
The team was received at Hindon by top IAF
officials, including Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major. The expedition
entered the Indian air space near Bhuj on Saturday night after a
historic stopover at Karachi for refuelling.
The team acted as goodwill ambassadors of the country
across the globe. "At Karachi, we felt at home. We were greeted
by a Pakistani Air Force Air Commodore at the airfield and had food
together while the aircraft refuelled," Monga said.
A bag of lovingly prepared sandwiches and a tank full
of fuel set off the Indian team for the final leg into India.
The expedition, flagged in by Air Chief
Marshal F. H. Major, saw the pilots cover 40,497 km in 80 days flying
over 19 countries.
F H Major set the tone for military diplomacy by thanking
the countries that hosted the team. “The IAF will gladly reciprocate
this generous hospitality at any time. It has fostered goodwill
across nations,” he said.
The pilots, Wing Cdr Rahul Monga
and Wing Cdr Anil Kumar, had taken off from Hindan on June 1.
The original plan was to complete the trip
in 64 days, but bad weather has preceded the expedition all through
and delayed them at a number of places, especially in China, Russia,
Alaska and then in Europe.
The microlight, specially vulnerable to
inclement weather, got stuck at anchorage in Alaska for six days
and in Germany for four days waiting for the weather to clear.
The expedition had to contend with a fair amount
of bad weather en route and was also stuck at Anchorage in Alaska
for six days. Notwithstanding this, the aircraft entered Canada
and then headed for Iceland, often making quick alterations to the
original planned route.
The crossing of the formidable North Atlantic was done
solo by Monga and he negotiated the inclement weather flying over
frozen seas and icebergs for a considerable period of time. The
weather kept the expedition on the ground for four days in Germany.
The crew then crossed the icy Alps and entered Italy.
This expedition never had a dull movement with
a minor unserviceability occurring in Italy, causing them to do
an unplanned landing.
The crew handled each and every situation in very professional
manner. The next challenge was the encountering of High temperatures
and consequent high Density altitudes (a condition of reduced air
density) which pose difficulties in flying.
The hot weather coupled with mountainous terrain also
led to excessive turbulence which made the flying conditions uncomfortable.
The Round-the-World microlight expedition was
flagged off on June one by Major from Hindon as a part of Platinum
Jubilee Celebrations of the IAF.
The aim was to circumnavigate the earth (minimum distance
of 36,889 kms) in the shortest period of time. The Air Chief in
his address at the time of Flag-Off ceremony had directed them to
go "Around the World in Eighty Days."
"These two have shown what trans-oceanic reach
really is. We are thankful to the governments of all the nations
who supported us. They have built goodwill for the IAF," said Air
Chief Marshal Major, lauding the two pilots.