The Gripen Top Gun contest featured in the leading newspapers would have been just one of the many advertising strategies for the AERO India show 2011 in Bangalore. For me however it was the ticket to realize an unfulfilled dream; thanks to my mother who spotted the advertisement.
The Aero India show conducted from the 9th to 13th of Feb 2011 had the Defence and security company Saab, bring to India a once in a life time opportunity for combat aircraft followers to realize their dream to fly the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft, the Gripen, during its sojourn in Bangalore.
The contest had an amateur and professional level challenge to clear which tested our knowledge of aircrafts. The contest was judged by top Swedish and Indian pilots to select a few who would get a shot at flying the real Gripen Aircraft simulator. From over 3000 applications, I was lucky to be selected amongst the five chosen simulator ‘pilots’ amongst 4 others from different cities in India.
On the morning of 12th Feb 2011, in our pilot suits, we were briefed about the systems and had one training round followed by the simulation flight. During our simulation flight we were evaluated on the basis of our skills during takeoff, attacking the enemy target and landing, besides general handling of the aircraft.
Although I did not win the contest, what mattered to me most was to have got the incredible opportunity to live my dreams – even for a few minutes!
On the final day of the contest, Saab had a big surprise for the 4 finalists. We were to have the honor and opportunity to fly a Saab 2000; in a convoy with Gripen and Saab 340 flanking it on either side
As I took charge of the Saab 2000 under the guidance of the pilot and cruised up to 10000 feet in air, the only thought that crossed my mind was, all of us have some power to make wishes come true, as long as we keep believing…
Kasmera Dilip Shah from Bangalore
> Read about the winner of the Gripen Top Gun Contest
> Shaival Sheth, one of the other finalists, has written about the exiting journey of being a contender of the Gripen Top Gun contest, read his story here.