Geared for take off
The fantastic five: Adheesha, Chathura, Sachith, Kalhara and
Sudara. Pictures by Saman Sri Wedage
There are many species which fly over the city in this part of the
country. Birds are always plentiful here but those who are fascinated by
flying machines are especially drawn to all sorts of man-made wondrous
things that fill the sky.
Those who had the opportunity to drop by Nalanda College, Colombo, on
International Children's Day last month were in for a treat. A group of
energetic lads got together to fill the air with models of flying
objects of various shades and shapes. This was not meant as a mere
spectacle but proved to be a hub of knowledge as well. Titled the
Nalandian Air Show, the project was spearheaded by the 2011/2012 board
members of the Nalanda College Aeronautical Society. 2012 marked the
second year in which the Air Show took off.
The boys of the society have always possessed a passion for flying.
They have often searched the skies for the occasional plane to fly by.
Be it the propeller planes, jet planes, helicopters, or even the
occasional Kafir or MIG 27, observing these beauties have been a great
way to expand their interest towards the fascinating mode of travel.
This is where their 'spark' lit up and become a lifetime interest.
"We mainly focus on upgrading the knowledge of our fellow students.
We managed to rouse interest among them and increase the membership.
SriLankan Airlines and the Sri Lanka Air Force help us conduct a course
on the subject. We started it in 2008. We have got a certificate
approved by the Civil Aviation Unit for this," President Adheesha
The society was established in 1952. Though many other schools too
have similar societies, Nalanda College has topped the list and has
maintained their standards to become the only school eligible for the
Nalanda College Aeronautical Society members with their teacher
in charge and principal
exhibit at the Nalanda Walk 2012 s of the Maroons
"Our members are from grade six to the Advanced Level classes. They
have to sit for an exam and they are graded according to their
performance. The certificate is issued at four levels. There are a lot
of benefits connected with the field. You get to meet the key players in
the segment as well as learn the ropes. Many of our past members have
joined the field and they have learnt their basics during their school
years. It set the foundation for their career. They have joined various
sectors in the field such as the airlines and have excelled in their
profession. They have been a strength to us," Treasurer Sachith
The certificate is valid in any field connected with aviation across
the world. Nalandians have the privilege of obtaining this free of
charge based on their performance at the exam. All of the past
Presidents of the college have made it to the top ranks in the aviation
"Many students are still not aware of these details. We are creating
awareness among our peers so that they too will be able to pursue
professions in the aviation sector. They think aviation involves
piloting but it is much more than that. There are opportunities beyond
the borders. You get aeronautical engineers, air traffic controllers and
many other professions in the maintenance side. It has a lot of perks.
The aeronautical field is the second best paid profession in the world.
It comes second only to the marine field," Gunawardana added.
Among the other highlights of the society's agenda is the Nalanda
Walk 2012. The team managed to borrow a mini 500 helicopter from the
Asian Aviation Centre.
"We also held a workshop on how model aircrafts function. The
lectures were conducted by members from the Air Force. There was a
practical side to this programme. They brought parts of an aircraft
along with them, fixed them together and showed onlookers how the model
takes off into the sky. We also had a stall about aviation at the Future
Minds exhibition. We displayed a lot of equipments connected with the
field and explained them to the visitors," Secretary Chathura Ranaweera
elaborated adding that they had a lot of positive feedback at the event.
Many youth had expressed the desire to launch an aviation society in
their own schools and engage in similar activities. They also had a
simulator at the event and held a demonstration.
Speaking about why he decided to become a member of the Nalanda
College Aeronautical Society Editor Kalhara Dasun said that he had
always looked towards a future in the aviation sector.
|An exhibit at
the Nalanda Walk 2012
the Air Show
"We had about twenty engine powered and fuel powered planes at our
first Air Show," he reflects on how he witnessed the spectacular models
Munasinghe says that a board generally organizes around five or six
annual events. They take part in Future Minds, the Padmini Rajapaksa All
Island Quiz Competition, Nalanda Walk and quiz competitions organized by
SriLankan Airlines, Civil Aviation Authority and other schools.
"We also organize workshops and night camps. SriLankan Airlines and
Sri Lankan Air Force lecturers conduct lectures within the society every
Tuesday afternoon. The exam and annual general meeting marks the closure
of the year," he said.
Reflecting on his experiences as a society member Sudara Withane said
that he had joined the society from 2009. Withane is the Chief Organizer
of Nalanda College Aeronautical Society and says that team spirit is the
key to their success.
He said, "That is one of the aspects which help us reach our goals.
Since we are issued with the certificate, it acts as the stepping stone
to the field. My ambition is to become an aeronautical engineer."
Due to the vast interest and demand from other schools the boys have
plans to launch a campaign to spread their knowledge among younger
students. They have already established Aeronautical Societies at D S
Senanayake College, Colombo, and Joseph Vaz College, Wennappuwa.
"Our target is to form a network among the Colombo schools and then
take it to other areas in the country," Munasinghe explained.
Besides Adheesha, Chathura, Sachith, Kalhara and Sudara, other
members of the top board of the Nalanda College Aeronautical Society are
Chief Coordinator Nipun Jayatilake and Movindu Amarasinghe.
The boys expressed their gratitude to Air Operation Air Vice Marshal
Gagan Bulathsinhala, Aeronautical Engineering Director Air Vice Marshal
Jayanath Kumarasiri, Squadron Leaders Poojana Gunathilaka and Muditha
Mahawattage. They also noted that their teacher in charge Shiromi
Ratnayake and Nalanda College Principal Ranjith Jayasundara have been
pillars of strength to them.
the procedures at the Future Minds exhibition