What keeps an aircraft afloat? How do pilots take off? And who make up the silent army that keep flights safe? These are some of the questions that Sony BBC Earth’s mini-series City In The Sky aims to answer.
“There are millions of things that happen in the background, and every flyer has the curiosity to learn how things happen in the sky,” Mumbai-based adventurer and aviation enthusiast Mitt Bhatt told Scroll.in. “It is a fabulous show that gives insights on the airline industry and how things work in order for us to fly someone from one place to the other safely.”
Bhatt, who is associated with the show’s promotional activity in India, holds the national record of being the first Indian civilian to “Fly Highest and Fastest To The Edge Of Space In A MiG-29 Fighter Jet” in the Limca Book Of Records. City In The Sky, which was premiered worldwide in 2016, will be broadcast for Indian audiences in Sony BBC Earth on May 1.
The three-episode show details the challenges of getting an aircraft off the ground. British presenters Dallas Campbell and Hannah Fry speak to staffers at some of the world’s biggest airports. “The show explores air travel right from the manufacturing of an aircraft all the way till airline operations,” Bhatt added. “People looking at the show from a career perspective get to know about what the job entails. Every flier wants to know how an aircraft functions and what the pilot does.”
The first episode, for instance, explores flight departure in extreme temperatures, food and baggage systems at airports, and fuel pipelines. This episode also explores the workings of an airport in Siberia. “It is fascinating to see how they keep the aircraft running and keep things moving even in harsh climates,” Bhatt said. “Dubai is yet another extreme, where hot temperatures affect the aircraft. The show depicts many such variables to show us how things change and what these people do to still make you fly.”
Bhatt’s fascination with aviation began at a very young age. “As I read more about space flights and shuttles, I knew I wanted to pursue flying when I was young,” he recalled. “I had this dream of becoming a test pilot, and I had to do an aerospace engineering course besides meeting fitness requirements. However, the aerospace engineering course is not available in India. So then I switched to mechanical engineering in the hopes of becoming a flight engineer or an airline pilot.”
Bhatt was 33 when he flew at supersonic speed of Mach 1.7 (approximately 2,080 kmph). “That moment was the icing on my cake in my career in the aviation industry,” Bhatt recalled. “I got to fly and went to the edge of space.” Bhatt, who now runs a travel company, intends to reach space again: “I am waiting for commercial space flights to happen.”