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Elephants-helicopters of the Indian Army

Added Wed, 12/07/2023
Дата публикации
Sun, 14/08/2022

In the 70s of the last century, an unusual show in the traditions of the ancient culture of this country was organized at one of the Republic Day parades in India.

About 40 years ago, the Indian Air Force amazed the audience at an air show with a flying dancing elephant. The organizers of the event dressed up the pride of the Indian aircraft industry — the Chetak helicopter - in the costume of a ceremonial elephant.

To give the aircraft the desired look, the organizers of the event hired an experienced tailor. The master was taken to the airbase, where the aircraft were located at that time. The task for the tailor was simple — to sew clothes for the helicopter. It took about three weeks for the tailor to work — taking measurements, cutting and sewing a suit. The master sewed clothes for the helicopter in the style of the maharaja.

To sew the elements of the costume, including tusks, trunk and hollow legs, the tailor used the most colorful fabrics, which were pre-selected in the most careful way. The work of creating clothes for the helicopter was very responsible. If the suit was too light and thin, it would be instantly torn apart by air currents after the aircraft took off. If the clothes were, on the contrary, too heavy, the helicopter would not be able to perform maneuvers in the air at an air show. In addition, the stunts could become dangerous for the spectators below.

When the helicopter took off at the show, everything looked very cute and funny. But experts noticed that when flying on an elephant-shaped helicopter, the pilots still had difficulties. This was primarily due to the fact that the suit greatly interfered with the pilot's view. Only a narrow strip on the front window remained open in the cab. The elephant's hood hanging from above made the maneuvers even more difficult.

Because of the suit, the helicopter was also limited in speed. The car could not fly at a speed greater than 83 km/h. It was quite dangerous to lift a costumed helicopter into the air. If at least one piece of fabric had come off the suit and got stuck in the screw mechanisms, disaster would have been inevitable.

An experienced pilot Birji Mohan Datta flew an elephant-clad helicopter at an air show in India. Holding the car motionless at a height of three meters above the ground, he performed an improvised Indian dance with it, imitating the swaying of an elephant. This dangerous performance lasted about five minutes. 

Over the following years, Chetak helicopters were dressed in bright costumes several more times in India. One of these suits was sewn in the form of a goldfish in the 70s. On another helicopter in 1993, they put on clothes imitating a bird. This car also took part in the celebration of the national day of the country.

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