SINGAPORE - Rehearsals for this year's National Day Parade (NDP) have started, and people in the Marina Bay area might have caught a glimpse of the state flag flypast near the Floating Platform on Tuesday morning (June 6).
A group of students, however, had an even better view.
Seven beneficiaries from The Straits Times School Pocket Money Fund got the rare chance to watch a rehearsal for the state flag flypast from on board one of the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) Super Puma helicopters, typically used for search and rescue missions.
The roughly hour-long journey started from the Sembawang Air Base, and took the students over locations such as Bukit Timah Hill, Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands and Sentosa.
The students also got to see the state flag being flown across the southern coast of Singapore by a Chinook helicopter, before looping back to the air base.
Yishun Secondary School student M. Arulkarthik, 13, who was one of the students on board, said: "It was quite cool to see the view from afar. On aeroplanes, you won't get the chance to see Marina Bay and all that. Because it is so high up, you can see only clouds. But on the helicopter, you can see a lot more things."
For Ferdah Nursyakirah Mohammed Firdaus, a 15-year-old from Woodlands Ring Secondary School, the ride on board the helicopter made her proud to be a Singaporean. "The ride was awesome. The view from the top is very pretty and rare to see. I'm proud that we have all these buildings, and that we have many places to explore," she said.
This year's NDP, which will be held at The Float @ Marina Bay, will also see the return of the Red Lions skydivers, who will be jumping from Super Puma helicopters.
Captain Aditya Sharma, a pilot from RSAF's 125 Squadron, was co-pilot on Tuesday's flight. He told The Straits Times: "Kids are the future of our nation, and exposing them to such a rare opportunity brings me joy, because flying is always a special experience, whether you are an aviator or not.
"The route involved us flying to the Central Business District, to the Marina Bay Floating Platform area... It is a bird's eye view that most people won't get to see. But thanks to this opportunity, the children were able to experience that."
Master Sergeant Mark Ho, the air crew specialist on board Tuesday's flight, helped to point out landmarks to the students.
"It is a very good opportunity for the students to be able to be in an aircraft at such an early stage. I was pointing out to them certain landmarks... because seeing things on an MRT map, and seeing things from the sky gives a very different perspective."
Muhd Haikal Muhd Khir, from Queensway Secondary School, said he is now even more motivated to become a pilot. Added the 14-year-old: "The way the pilots control the helicopter looks fun, so I want to learn how to do it too."