State flag to be flown across Singapore on two routes
As part of this year's NDP, two Chinook helicopters will fly past likes of Bedok, Punggol and Ang Mo Kio
For the first time, many Singaporeans will be able to see from their homes the state flag fly-past during this year's National Day Parade (NDP).
Two Chinook helicopters, each carrying the Singapore flag at a height of about 305m, will fly across the island on separate routes in the east and the west.
Each helicopter will be escorted by two Apache helicopters during this segment titled "Fly Our Flag".
The eastern route will take the flag - measuring 30m by 20m - past housing estates such as Bedok and Punggol, while the helicopters on the western route will fly past residences in places such as Jurong East, Choa Chu Kang and Ang Mo Kio.
Both routes will begin in the south of Singapore and end at Sembawang Air Base in the north. The flights are slated to start at 10.30am and will each take 55 minutes.
With the focus on celebrating the nation's 55th birthday at home, this year's NDP will be split into morning and evening portions, with many segments taking place in different locations across the island.
The morning portion of the Aug 9 celebrations will include a nationwide broadcast of the Prime Minister's National Day Message and a parade at the Padang.
The evening show will take place at The Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista.
All the action will be shown live on TV and streamed on Internet platforms.
Captain Eugene Chua, who is involved in the planning and coordination of the fly-past routes, said the routes and the flight height of the helicopters were designed for maximum exposure of the flag to residents in the heartland areas.
Capt Chua, 32, who is the deputy flying display marshal, also said the safety of the residents on the ground as well as the helicopter crew was a priority when planning the routes.
Military Expert 2 Sukhdesh Singh, who will be on the Chinook helicopter taking the eastern route, said he will be ensuring the three helicopters on his route remain in close formation but at a proper distance from one another.
"I will also be looking out for any unmanned aircraft such as drones, and birds that might come into the flight path," said the 35-year-old flight engineer.
He will also be watching out for any obstacles such as construction cranes and high-rise buildings that the helicopters will have to avoid, he added.
There are contingency plans in place in the event of any complications, such as unfavourable weather conditions or if the flags fail to unfurl fully.
These include 14 back-up flags at multiple airbases across Singapore, such as Changi Air Base.
This year's NDP will also mark the first time a female pilot will be flying a Chinook helicopter in the state flag fly-past.
Captain Trixie Tang, 31, who is also the Republic of Singapore Air Force's first female Chinook helicopter pilot, will be flying on the eastern route.
"I feel very honoured and grateful to be given this opportunity," she said.
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