Friday, February 13, 2009

Bangalore: After touching Olympic heights in Beijing just a few months ago, Abhinav Bindra soared to a new high in a fighter aircraft to join the select list of Indians, including Ratan Tata, who have flown the F-16.
Abhinav touched 20,000 feet in a F-16 IN Super Viper, a fourth-generation fighter from the workshop of American company Lockheed Martin. He was thrilled after an hour-long flight.
The ash-coloured single-engine fighter, which the company got here on lease from the UAE Air Force, rolled off the tarmac at 4.51 pm. In six minutes, it soared above with India's pride on the navigator's seat.
"I've never felt like this before. After Olympics, this was the most exhilarating experience. It was a fantastic feeling,'' said Bindra, who wore a dark-blue flying suit. Piloting Bindra's joyride was Lockheed's test-pilot Paul Randall, who has clocked 4,500 hours of flying time on various F-16 models.
"We went away from the airfield, pulled off a lot of Gs, up to 6.5 Gs. We did some manoeuvres like turns and rolls. And we flew past the clouds at 20,000 feet and almost hit the speed of sound,'' Randall said, giving 10/10 to the gold medalist.
Bindra also had the privilege of manning the flight for a few minutes.
"He made me comfortable. I got extensive briefing ahead of the flight. I attended the medicals in New Delhi on Tuesday and today I was on the simulator for 45 minutes,'' Bindra said.
The Super Viper, called the Ferrari of fighters, can reach 50,000 feet and is capable of flying at speeds just over two machs — twice the speed of sound.
13/02/09 Times of India

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