SINGAPORE: Look out of your window on the morning of National Day and you might catch a glimpse of the state flag carried by a Chinook helicopter as it makes its way across Singapore.
For the first time, two state flags will be flown along two routes in the iconic flypast event – and they will travel across the heartlands in line with this year’s concept of bringing the National Day Parade (NDP) closer to residents.
From 10.30am on Aug 9, one flag will set off for the Padang, flying across it while the national anthem plays, before taking an eastern route over Singapore. The second flag will fly a western route.
The eastern route includes – but is not limited to – Marine Parade, Bedok South, Changi Airport, Pasir Ris, the area around Paya Lebar Airbase, the Punggol area, Yio Chu Kang, Sembawang and Yishun.
As for the western route, it covers locations such as West Coast, Jurong West, Choa Chu Kang, Yew Tee, Woodlands, Bukit Panjang, the area around MacRitchie Reservoir and Thomson.
The flags will fly concurrently for about 55 minutes before landing at Sembawang Airbase.
The flypast is an annual tradition during the parade, but it will take place in the morning this year as organisers have made changes to the format of the show due to COVID-19 restrictions.
There will be a morning and evening segment, with a reduced number of participants and no plans to allow spectators for the evening show.
It will also be the first time that a female pilot will fly the state flag on a Chinook during the NDP flypast.
“I volunteered to participate for this year’s (NDP) because it’s a good opportunity to give back and to contribute in my own way to the National Day Parade and to Singapore this year,” said Captain Trixie Tang, who will be flying the eastern route.
“I feel very honoured and grateful to be given this opportunity.”
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FLYING THE FLAG
For the Republic of Singapore Air Force crew, the state flag flypast is a significant undertaking.
Measuring 30m by 20m, the state flag used in the event is about 1.5 times the size of a basketball court. It takes 25 people between 45 minutes and two hours to fold one flag.
The flag is then rigged to a Chinook helicopter, a process that takes 45 minutes. Three ballasts, each weighing 220kg, are attached to it to hold the 140kg flag down as it unfurls.
When it is time to unfurl the flag, a three-man team will pull the release rope when the aircraft picks the flag up so that it can catch the wind.
Once the flypast is over, the team will release the flags at Sembawang Airbase where the ballasts will be removed and the flags folded.
This year, there are added considerations in taking the flags to the heartlands.
“The difference in planning from previous years, this year is especially so for looking at the safety aspect, while we bring the flags into the heartlands,” said Captain Eugene Chua, who is the deputy Flying Display Marshal.
“We also have to study the various profiles that we have planned to ensure that at the same flight our flight route is taking the flag to a position where we maximise the exposure to the residents at the optimum height and optimum route that ensures both safety and maximum exposure.”
Temporary restricted areas will be set up across Singapore in preparation for the flypast, meaning people should not fly kites or drones in those areas. The list of areas can be found on the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore’s website.