Students take a look at the Howitzer gun at Sonari Airport in Jamshedpur on Tuesday . Pictures by Bhola Prasad
Seventh grader Ayushi Srivastava of Carmel Junior College in Jamshedpur jumped in excitement as she watched the graceful free fall of paratroopers from Para Field Regiment of Agra.
She ran towards paratrooper Subedar Jagdish Prasad for his autograph. Discovering she had no paper, she took it on her palm.
Eighth grader Rahul Dubey of Church School Beldih loved the artillery equipment on display, jotting down details of Insas rifles, light machine and Howitzer guns.
Around 200 schoolchildren loved the Know Your Army fair hosted by 64th Field Regiment Gorkha Gunners at Sonari Airport on Tuesday in Jamshedpur. The regiment’s paratroopers were divided into two teams, Pushpak and Meghdoot. While Pushpak comprised the seven paramotorists, Meghdoot had six skydivers. The two-hour display started at 7.30am, with an exhibition of artillery, rifles and communication gear on the sidelines.
For most, paramotor and paragliding sessions were a novel experience, as was seeing sophisticated gadgets for tactical warfare up close. The last Know Your Army camp in the city was held back in 2006.
“We have seen these things only on TV and films. It was amazing to see paragliders land successfully from 10,000ft and more, despite the 9kg engine. They also carry the Tricolour. I had to shake hands and get a paraglider’s autograph,” beamed Ayushi.
“We organise these events to motivate youngsters to join Indian Army and encourage adventure sports. We have performed in Bhutan, Russia and UAE,” said Naik Prabhakar Naik, Meghdoot team leader.
While generically called paratroopers, the difference between motorists and gliders is evident. Paramotorists use a harness for safety while a motor and propeller power their flight. Paragliders or skydivers jump off helicopters.
Students came to know how armies use paratroopers for tactical advantage. As they are air-dropped, they can position themselves on terrain inaccessible on foot or wheels.
Exhibits were another eye-opener. Apart from arms, communication devices such as enhanced tactical computers or iPad lookalikes built to withstand extreme weather conditions, thermal image-integrated observation equipment or TIIOE for target shooting during night, inclinometer, dial sight, telescopes.
“We are happy that students showed keen interest today. We will conduct monthly lecture sessions at schools and colleges to motivate GeNext into taking up army as a career,” said a senior official at the 64th Field Regiment.
He added they had trained local candidates during the army recruitment camp in Sonari in August. “We thought of preparing candidates free of cost for National Defence Academy entrance exams that are held twice a year,” he added.