Television

NGC's 'Mission Udaan' on last leg at Bangalore

BANGALORE: 60,000 entries from three cities - Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore! Those were the numbers that have to be chopped down to just five finalists by National Geographic Channel (NGC) vice president programming and production - Ramon Chibb and his team for the localisation initiative Mission Udaan.

NGC VP programming, production Ramon Chibb

As had been reported earlier by Indiantelevision.com, Mission Udaan is the third Mission property for NGC following Mission Everest in 2003 and Mission Mars last year.

The prize will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to fly at supersonic speeds in a fighter jet and experience life of an air force pilot for an entire month.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com Chibb says, "The idea for Mission Udaan was conceived by me. The Air Force accepted this concept quite well probably because we are NGC. So far our team has had no problems whatsoever in any of the missions."

"The Air Force has given us limited, restricted access to their bases and have set the selection criteria. They are also conducting tests on the applicants. Probably, the sailing may not have been as smooth if it was any other channel," he adds.

As far as the nature of candidates is concerned Chibb points out that NGC had around 50 girls each from Delhi and Mumbai who participated. Five girls from Delhi were shortlisted from the 10 entries from there. "From Mumbai there are four girls who have been selected, so we've eight women and eleven men, a total of nineteen from these two cities," says Chibb.

"One of these is a very fit 39 year old dentist from Mumbai. The enthusiasm of the participants is amazing, especially here in Bangalore. Many of them have come in even before we did at 5 am, despite the rains. We've had two participants, one a fifty nine year old from Mysore – I think a K T Thomas who has been involved with quality and safety issues of military aircraft, and another – a sixty old who flies on official duty for Indian Airlines – an M S Mani. Both wanted to take a shot at it, and they did compete with the youngsters."

As far as what happens now that the 29 finalists are selected, Chibb explains, "We will be taking them to Mysore tomorrow-all of them for the pilot aptitude tests. After that they'll have to undergo medical tests at the Institute of Aerospace here in Bangalore. The final five will be picked at this stage. These candidates will get to experience the life of an Air Force pilot. They'll be exposed to helicopters, to transport planes to fighter aircraft, to MOFT (Mig Operation Fly Training) and para-training at Agra.

Chibb says that this localisation initiative does not mean that the final five who are chosen will be absorbed in the Air Force. That, he says, is done either through the National Defense Academy (NDA) after the tenth or the candidate must be a science graduate with physics and maths. "This is just to expose first hand the life of an Air Force pilot," he explains.

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