Aerial contingent of 50 aircraft to dazzle crowds at the National Day Parade this year

Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft performing during the 2012 National Day Parade. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE- An aerial contingent of 50 aircraft will dazzle crowds at this year's National Day Parade - the biggest fleet to put up a show at the Aug 9 display in more than 40 years.

More than 10 types of aircraft from the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will soar over the Marina Bay and Padang during Golden Jubilee parade and put up a four-minute aerial ballet.

They include the F-16s and F-15 fighter jets, C-130 transport plane, Fokker 50 Maritime Patrol Aircraft and the S-70B naval helicopters. The only time there were more than 50 aircraft staging the aerial display was at the 1976 NDP.

Also aiming to wow spectators are ace pilots from the RSAF's Black Knights. Five Black Knights will kick off the NDP show and fly in a "Five Stars" formation in an aerial salute to Singapore's founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died at 93 on March 29. The formation represents the national ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Other highlights of the aerial display will include precision manoeuvres like 20 F-16 jets forming the number 50 and vertical climbs.

The heart-stopping aerobatics are made more challenging by the congested airspace over the Central Business District and its towering skyscrapers, said Colonel Francis Ngooi, who is in charge of orchestrating the aerial display.

NDP's air participation chairman Francis Ngooi, who is in charge of orchestrating the aerial display, said flying over a built-up area leaves pilots with less space to perform their manoeuvres.

But Colonel Ngooi promised: "What we have come up with is the most impactful and optimal composition (of aircraft) for the crowd to enjoy".

Among the pilots who have also been perfecting their routines since May(2015) is a female fighter pilot - an NDP first.

Major Lee Mei Yi, 33, who is among the handful of female fighter pilots in the air force, said: "It's added significance for myself...there's a growing community of female pilots and female fighter pilots, so I'm not (going to be) the only one. "

Besides the aerobatics, NDP spectators can also expect to catch two fireworks shows at the Padang and Marina Barrage, and a convoy of more than 160 war machines, among other highlights.

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