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Air race to mark flight century

New Delhi, Nov. 19: Union civil aviation minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy and former Congress minister Satish Sharma will add star value to an air race organised by the Indian Air Force and the civil aviation ministry tomorrow to commemorate a century of manned flight.

More than 50 aircraft will fly from three airfields in three directions and head to Nagpur, where the IAF’s maintenance command is headquartered. Jets, light piston propellers, microlights and powered gliders will take off from Barrackpore, Bangalore and Goa. The aircraft will cover equal distances and converge at Nagpur by Saturday, November 22.

Satish Sharma, a former airline pilot, will fly a Piper from Barrackpore and Rudy will fly in an HPT-32, a trainer for pilots in the first year with the air force.

IAF sources said the cross-country race has been worked out to test the ability of the pilots to bring the best out of the aircraft. The aircraft have been “handicapped” to ensure that they are rated by the same yardstick.

The aircraft will touch 25 airfields, among them Jamshedpur, Bihta, Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Khajuraho and Jabalpur for aircraft flying from the eastern base at Barrackpore.

A closing ceremony on Sunday will be highlighted by a 33-aircraft flypast of the IAF’s Sukhoi, Mirage-2000, Jaguar, AN-32 and Mi-17.

The “air race” will commemorate the first flight in 1903 by the Wright Brothers.

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