Bollywood star Shahid Kapoor flies in F-16 at air show

Bangalore, Feb 12 (Calcutta Tube) Bollywood hero Shahid Kapoor Saturday flew in an American F-16 fighter at the AeroIndia 2011 military-cum-civil aviation trade expo on the outskirts of this aerospace hub.

‘It was a thrilling experience, which will help me in the role as a fighter pilot in my forthcoming film ‘Mausam’,’ a beaming Kapoor told reporters after a 40-minute sortie at the Indian Air Force (IAF) air base near Yelahanka, about 20 km from the city.

The F-16IN Super Viper was flown by Lockheed Martin’s test pilot Paul ‘Bear’ Randall on mission mode and was escorted by another F-16 flown by test pilot Jim Hedges and a US Air Force pilot.

‘Though Kapoor didn’t take controls of the aircraft mid-air, the flight was operated on mission mode for about 40 minutes with AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar,’ a company spokesperson told IANS.

Prior to the flight on the fourth day of the five-day biennial mega air show, Kapoor underwent mandatory health check-ups and was found fit to fly in the combat aircraft.

‘It’s a huge honour and privilege to fly such a magnificent aircraft. I wanted to have real-time experience of flying a fighter before action in the movie,’ the 30-year-old actor said.

A couple of hours before the take-off, Kapoor was familiarised with the operations of the aircraft and made to ‘fly’ it in a simulator by Lockheed Martin’s test pilots and engineers.

‘I have been preparing for this event with rigorous training over the last one month. The tests included flying at a very high velocity and making sure I would not suffer from motion sickness,’ Kapoor recalled.

Kapoor is the latest to join the likes of Tata group chairman Ratan Tata, IAF Wing Commander (Retd) Rakesh Sharma and Lok Sabha member from Haryana Navin Jindal to have flown in the tandem-seater fly-by-wire supersonic F-16

‘It’s a great experience and I learnt how to fly a fighter. Paul (the pilot) gave me lot of tips about flying such an awesome military aircraft and I am thankful to Lockheed Martin,’ he said.

The US-based Lockheed’s F-16 is in contention for the estimated $10-billion Indian tender to supply 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) to the IAF along with five global aerospace majors — F/A-18 Super Hornet of Boeing, Gripen of Saab, Rafale of French Dassault, Typhoon of Eurofighter and MiG-35 of Russian MiG Corporation.

‘Mausam’ is being directed by Shahid’s father Pankaj Kapoor, in which the younger would play the role of a fighter pilot opposite Sonam Kapoor. The film is due for release in July.

Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni too visited the air show at the closing hours and went around the base where various aircraft and helicopters were on display.

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