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IAF jubilee year draws to a close
- Wings of platinum

Siliguri, Oct. 8: Over 700 personnel took oath at the Bagdogra air force base this morning on Air Force Day, drawing to an end the year-long platinum jubilee celebrations of the force.

The jubilee, which commemorated the 75 years in which the IAF grew from the Wapiti biplane to the sophisticated Sukhoi-230 fighter aircraft, was celebrated with a variety of events through the year at Bagdogra.

During the anniversary year the station here was selected as the second-best operational air force base in the country.

“Our station had earlier been declared the best in Eastern Air Command. Then, after a rigorous inspection by a 22-member team from Air Headquarters, New Delhi, we were declared the second-best in the country,” said Group Captain Chandramouli, station commander of the Bagdogra air force base.

The first place has gone to Air Force Station, Bhuj, in Gujarat, which had to be almost rebuilt from scratch after the devastating earthquake in 2001. There were about 60 operational bases in the race for the top slots.

The year started off with a display for the public by the Suryakiran aerobatics team, in which 11 Kiran jet aircraft showed precision timing and formation flying in the skies over Bagdogra.

Then came the visit in June of the two-member team that went on to create a world record of completing a round the world flight in a microlight aircraft weighing only 300 kg. Wing Commanders Rahul Monga and Anil Kumar started from Hindon air base near Delhi on June 1, passed through Bagdogra the same day and then went on to traverse the skies over 18 countries, including the freezing atmosphere over Alaska.

The Bagdogra air base has also started a project using guppy fish that eat mosquito larvae. The project — initiated by Group Captain Chandramouli — has helped in reducing the number of mosquitoes, the vector for diseases like malaria and dengue.

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