Indian Air Force Day: Parade
The Air Force Parade marks the beginning of the celebration on October 8. All Air Force stations conduct their respective parades at their air bases. The traditional military parade follows the same protocol.
The bugle is heralded and the parade is marched in from the right. The contingent is comprised of usually four squadrons of two flights each and is commanded by a Wing Commander. The parade is accompanied by a band that plays throughout the event. Once the parade marches in to the parade ground, it is customary for all attendees to rise in its honor and all uniformed air personnel will salute the parade.
The ‘Nishan Toli’ is carried by a lieutenant in the middle of the ground. The Nishan Toli is a flag which symbolizes the bravery, valor and commitment to mission, integrity and excellence of the Indian Air Force. It was first presented by Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the first President of the country on April 1, 1954 to the IAF. Since, then this flag is most revered and is hoisted on important occasions.
The aircraft and helicopters deployed for various important missions like Operation Rahat and Operation Meghdoot are exhibited. Along with these, the new aircraft ready to launch for various missions are also exhibited, its features and its purpose explained.
Indian Air Force Day: Origin and History
Since its inception in 1932, the Indian Air Force has had a remarkable history of achievements. Adhering to its primary purpose of securing the Indian airspace and conducting aerial warfare during a conflict, the Indian Air Force has been involved in four wars with Pakistan and one with China. It also played an active role in World War II blocking the advance of the Japanese army in Burma.
Other important operations include Operation Vijay (to claim Goa), Operation Meghdoot (to capture Siachen Glacier in the disputed Kashmir region), Operation Cactus (rescue operation in the Maldives), Operation Poomalai (to air-drop supplies over the besieged town of Jaffna in Sri Lanka) and Operation Rahat (rescue and relief of people struck by the flash floods in Uttarakhand). Apart from conflicts, the IAF has been instrument in the United Nations Peacekeeping Missions as well.
There is a meticulously conducted hollow square parade in which the Commander in Chief administers the oath of allegiance to all the air warriors as well as the civilian personnel for dedicating their lives to the larger and much greater cause of the nation. The wreath laying and the oath taking ceremony are usually the highlights of the celebrations which are conducted in full military traditions. This event marks the close of a week-long celebration organized in the run up to the Air Force day.
At the wreath laying ceremony, a tribute is paid to all the brave hearts of the Air Force who have laid down their lives in the service of the nation. As the buglers play the ‘Last Post’ the guards solemnly stand at “reverse arms” and all attendees observe a two minute silence. At Amar Jawan Jyoti, in Delhi, homage is paid to the martyrs who gave away their life for the greater good. A floral reed is presented by the Chief of Air Force, Army and Navy.
Speaking on the occasion, each individual’s contribution in accomplishing successful missions and enabling the Central Air Command to demonstrate a high degree of operation preparedness and potential is praised. Various awards and medals of honor are presented to the air warriors in keeping with their achievements of the previous year.
The teams perform different feats in the air creating different formations. Dolphin leap is one of the manoeuvrs followed by a colorful display by other air-crafts and helicopters. The grand finale includes the passing through the tunnel of rotating rifles. It is called the Rifle Drill and requires intense mind-body co-ordination to perform it successfully.
In the evening, a “Social Evening” is organized which is graced by the senior dignitaries from the civil administration and armed forces and also by veteran Air Force officers.