Full Album here: National Day Rehearsal 4th Jul 2015

Happy 4th of July Singapore! No, in case anyone’s wondering, Singapore did not actually join the Union. It’s really one of the numerous full dress rehearsals lined up for Singapore’s Golden Jubilee. This 50th year of Singapore’s independence is especially elaborate, with full rehearsals scheduled every Wednesday in July all the way to the actual National Day Parade on Aug 9.

Incidentally, this amazing lineup of repeat performances provides a unique opportunity for a single photographer to document the various displays from week to week. This time round: Field artillery, fireworks and ridiculously large flybys.

25-Pounder in action
25-pounder firing its round as part of the 21 gun salute.

Having seen the rehearsal the previous week, I had an idea of where the field artillery would be deployed for the gun salute. Incidentally, it’s on a floating barge to be set right in front of the Merlion at the Marina Bay. Some may miss the significance of this, but here’s the scoop: It means you’re literally a couple meters away from honest to goodness Ordnance QF 25-pounder field artillery firing blanks. It is quite the experience, feeling that concussive blast right in the chest. Trust me on this: Bring those earplugs.

20 F-16 jets flying in formation
20x F-16 jets in the 50 formation

While all this was going on, the jets and choppers were rounding up for an earth shaking flyby. This year is especially special, because in addition to the standard smoke trail air displays, a formation of 20 F-16 jets would zoom by spelling a giant 50 in the air.

F-16 Afterburners
Its afterburner time

Another sequence involves F-16s roaring by with afterburners at full blaze. In total, 50 aircraft will participate in this year’s displays, including AH-64 Apaches and Super Puma helicopters. Those numbers make little sense until one realizes that the Singapore Air Force is basically scrambling 50 aircraft in an airspace half the size of New York City and getting them all in formation in time to buzz their adoring crowd. Quite a feat indeed!

Fireworks over the Marina Bay
The obligatory celebratory fireworks

And finally, fireworks. Boom boom and all that. I think everyone’s seen them before, and they need no introduction. A shout-out to all you guys celebrating the big #4thOfJuly with bigger fireworks and all, happy Freedom Fries day!

Next week: Tanks and other vehicular means of mass destruction.