AFM contributor Mario Flores recently captured this impressive footage of Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) PT-6 piston-engine trainers – around 25 were counted in all – in rehearsal for the flying display that will mark 100 years since the birth of the Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country’s first president, who is known as the ‘Father of the Nation’.
Basic flight training and teaching cadets the principles of aeronautics is the task of the BAF’s 11 Squadron at BAF Base Matiur Rahman, Jessore, which was formed in 1982 to fly the PT-6. The first batch of four PT-6s was delivered in 1977. Additional deliveries have taken place, bringing the total number to at least 50 prior to the latest batch. The Bangladesh prime minister announced in December 2014 that 12 new PT-6s were being procured. Sightings of two previously unknown examples (2701 and 2702) in December 2016 suggests this has occurred but they are likely to be refurbished secondhand examples not new-build aircraft.
Basic flying training, which in Bangladesh includes night flying, takes around 120 hours, after which the student is either selected to fly fighters, helicopters or transport aircraft. The PT-6 is considered perfect for the job, as the OC 11 Squadron explained to AFM: “Our biggest challenge is to turn a man into a pilot and the PT-6 is perfect for basic training. The aircraft is simple and easy to understand, it has a strong landing gear and handles well for beginners. Some of our aircraft have been modified with ADF and a Garmin GPS system, however, its key asset is its reliability.”
Every year 11 Squadron has two classes with around ten to 15 cadets in each. In addition to training BAF pilots, it also accepts student pilots from the Bangladesh Navy and Army. Foreign countries have also received training with the BAF, including pilots from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Iraq. The PT-6 is also used by the Flying Instructor School based at Bogra, where the school receives administrative and operational support from Jessore. The training of flying instructors consists of an academic as well as a flying curriculum; the later comprises around 72 hours.