SG 50 6.50 PM

Display of derring-do

The traditional fly-past of the state flag, performed by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters, passing over Gardens by the Bay. The aircraft flew over the Padang during the singing of the National Anthem
The traditional fly-past of the state flag, performed by a CH-47 Chinook helicopter escorted by two AH-64D Apache helicopters, passing over Gardens by the Bay. The aircraft flew over the Padang during the singing of the National Anthem
Six Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights moving into a Delta, one of the formations that they flew during the public display off Marina South over the Jubilee weekend
Six Republic of Singapore Air Force Black Knights moving into a Delta, one of the formations that they flew during the public display off Marina South over the Jubilee weekend
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade (above); the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display; and the Black Knights executing the ''
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade (above); the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display; and the Black Knights executing the ''Five Stars'' aerial salute over the Merlion Park in honour of late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The five jets symbolise Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade; the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display; and the Black Knights executing the ''Five Sta
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade; the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display; and the Black Knights executing the ''Five Stars'' aerial salute over the Merlion Park in honour of late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew (above). The five jets symbolise Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade; the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display (above); and the Black Knights executing the ''
The Black Knights executing the bomb burst, fan-out manoeuvre in one of the most spectacular moments of the Parade; the crowd outside Marina Bay Sands trying to get the best photos of the aerial display (above); and the Black Knights executing the ''Five Stars'' aerial salute over the Merlion Park in honour of late founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The five jets symbolise Singapore's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.
The aerial display of the Parade making its way past onlookers at the Sands SkyPark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
The aerial display of the Parade making its way past onlookers at the Sands SkyPark at the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

'50' formation and Black Knights' bomb burst among highlights

The crowds squealed with delight when 20 F-16 fighter jets zoomed over them in a "50" formation.

Marking Singapore's 50th year of independence - and also the Golden Jubilee of the Singapore Armed Forces - the warplanes soared at 600kmh, bringing spectators to their feet to snap the best pictures.

But bad weather denied the Red Lions, a perennial crowd favourite, the chance to wow the spectators.

The parachutists' jump had to be called off due to low cloud cover which obstructed their view of the landing area. The chairman of the Parade's executive committee, Brigadier-General Melvyn Ong, said the safety of the Red Lions was its "foremost concern".

Monitoring the goings-on of the aerial segments was fly-past marshal, Lieutenant Colonel Benny Lui, who also had his eyes on the clock before him.


ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

Dubbed "Mother Goose", he had to maintain communications with all 51 aircraft involved in the show and ensure that their entrances were spot on. One second too soon and the effects would have been ruined. One second too late and there would have been awkward pauses.

"Can you imagine if the helicopters carrying the state flag arrived before the National Anthem?" said the 46-year-old. "We strive to get the timing down to the second."

Singapore Airlines also made its debut at the parade with its Airbus 380, the world's largest passenger aircraft. The plane soared past the audience sporting a 10m-tall and 47m-long Singapore flag-themed design on both sides of its fuselage.

The Black Knights, with their bomb burst, criss-cross and near-vertical climb manoeuvres, also drove the audience wild.

Healthcare worker Lee Koon Tan, 47 , said: " What they do is difficult and amazing. I love the sound they make too."

But it was those at Marina Bay Sands SkyPark who got closest to the aircraft, including 25 children from the Children's Cancer Foundation and Dyslexia Association of Singapore, and their parents. MBS reserved an area for them and arranged for a live Parade screening.

Lee Shawn Kit, 10, a beneficiary from the Children's Cancer Foundation, said: "The fly-pasts were very cool. I'd never seen them up close like that before."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2015, with the headline 'Display of derring-do'. Print Edition | Subscribe