The Combined Graduation Parade of Pilots and Ground Duty Officers was held at Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal near Hyderabad. The event marked the momentous occasion of passing out of 105 Flight Cadets as Flying Officers of the Indian Air Force. These young officers, include two women Fighter Pilots out of total 15 women officers, to join the elite cadre of Air Force Officers. The occasion also marked the passing out of 200th course of Indian Air Force officers, a long way forward since the humble beginning of the training of Indian trainees at Royal Air Force College, Cranwell in October 1931.
Admiral Sunil Lanba, Chief of the Naval Staff was the Chief Guest of the parade. As the Reviewing Officer of the parade, he conferred the 'President's Commission' to the graduating Flight Cadets who successfully completed their basic and professional training. Also present on the occasion was Air Marshal SRK Nair, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command, Indian Air Force. During the parade 14 officers of Indian Navy and Coast Guard were also awarded their 'Flying Brevets'. IAF routinely trains members of other services and para-military forces in basic aviation and related courses at Air Force Academy, Dundigal.
The day's events started with a display by the Skydiving team of Indian Air Force 'Akash Ganga', followed by spectacular synchronized movement of 'Air Warrior Drill Team' of the Indian Air Force. The parade started with General Salute to the Reviewing Officer. The ceremonial review by the Reviewing Officer was followed by an impressive march past. The high point of the parade was the commissioning ceremony in which the graduating cadets were awarded ranks by the Chief of the Naval Staff, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Training Command and Commandant Air Force Academy. After the commissioning, Admiral Sunil Lanba awarded the most prestigious award of the Academy, 'Chief of Air Staff Sword of Honour' and President's Plaque for standing first in overall merit in Pilots' Course to Flying Officer Karan Pal Singh. He also awarded President's Plaque to Flying Officer Vishnu Vishal and Flying Officer Mohit Kumar for being first in overall merit in Navigation and Ground Duty branches respectively.
The Parade, in its full grandeur marked with impeccably turned-out cadets and their perfectly synchronized drill movements demonstrating conviction and commitment, was witnessed by a large gathering of military and civil dignitaries along with proud family members and friends of the graduating Flight Cadets.
Later addressing the Parade, the Reviewing Officer complimented the newly Commissioned 'Flying Officers' for the exceptional standard of parade. Congratulating the passing-out cadets, the Chief of the Naval Staff said "It is a matter of great honour to review the Combined Graduation Parade of flight cadets and witness these fine men and women joining the Indian Air Force as future Military leaders and Aviators". He emphasised in his address, the importance of core values of a military leader i.e. integrity, courage, honesty, and selfless service to the nation. He reminded that there can be nothing more satisfying than participating in the defence of one's nation. He exhorted the young officers to carry forward the espoused legacy and the core values of Indian Air Force namely, 'Mission, Integrity and Excellence', in every walk of life. The newly commissioned officers were administered oath by the Commandant of the Academy.
The grand Graduation Parade culminated with a well synchronized display by the PC-7 MK II (the aircraft currently used in AFA to train greenhorn pilots), Kiran, Hawk aircraft and the Sarang Helicopter team and breathtaking aerobatics by the full-member Suryakiran Formation Aerobatic team, enthralling the audience.
Later the newly Commissioned Officers marched-out from behind the Fort wall, especially erected for the parade, in slow march to the poignant notes of 'Auld Lang Syne' acknowledging the first salute given to them by their immediate juniors. The parade was conducted on the martial tunes played by No 3 Air Force Band. They marched in absolute synchrony and with purposeful strides as they saluted the Reviewing Officer and crossed through the portals of their Alma mater to take-on their future assignments and challenges to "Touch the Sky with Glory".
The Combined Graduation Parade marks the culmination of rigorous training schedule of one year and heralds the entry of another generation of officers in the Indian Air Force. The Flight Cadets undergo professional and advanced training at various institutions besides Air Force Academy, viz., Air Force Stations Hakimpet, Begumpet, Yelahanka, and Air Force Administrative College (Coimbatore) as per their specialisation and finally pass-out together from the portals of the majestic "Sekhon" Block of Air Force Academy.
The Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal is the premier training establishment which transforms the raw recruits, known as "flight cadets" during their training at Air Force Academy, into elite cadre of officers for the Indian Air Force. The Air Force Academy as the 'Cradle of Inspired Leadership', imparts specialist training to the new entrants who are selected after a rigorous selection process at the Services Selection Boards (SSBs) to enable them to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills in various aspects of aerospace power and its application in each of their respective streams – that is Flying, Navigation, Engineering and other Ground duty branches. An intensive training regimen is followed at Air Force Academy to instil qualities of military leadership and the core values of the Indian Air Force. Truly exemplifying the Academy motto, 'Shram Se Siddhi' meaning 'Achievement through Diligence', the young men and women, transform into worthy Air Warriors of the highest professional, intellectual, physical and moral calibre dedicated to a lifetime of service to protect the sovereignty and integrity of the Nation.
- Wg Cdr Anupam Banerjee and
G Surendra Babu