Aero India 2009, Bangalore

Well, coming back from night shift at 8 in the morning and starting for Yelahanka at 10 was never a good proposition. So, I had almost decided upon passing on the tempting offer to visit the "Aero India 2009" air show, that too on the inaugural day with a business pass in-hand (well not in my hand exactly, but in my dear friend Tarique's hands but that doesn't change the equations, does it?). I had asked Neha to accompany Anup to the show.

However, when today in the morning she said that she won't be interested (to go without me, and I, the big fool that I am, took it to be a simple denial attributed to the lack of interest. So stupid of me!! I am so sorry dear.) I gave a second thought to the whole situation and thought "What the heck! I sleep 8 hours everyday, the sky won't fall if I don't sleep today". I called up Anup and asked him to give me a call as soon as he was ready. I went for a powernap for about 2 hours when he woke me up at 11. Did a hasty shave, brushed my teeth, took the customary bath and lo I was ready.

I met Anup near Forum, and we kick started his Pulsar 180 for the long ride to Yelahanka. The ride was pleasant and ordinary (unless you call dodging a Traffic Police checkpoint as extraordinary in Bangalore). We reached the venue well in time and Tarique welcomed us with the passes.

As soon as we entered, I started looking for the mean machines. I mean, I am a grown up adult but who is not fascinated by the look of a Fighter Jet standing just 5 feets from you. When we came out from the maze of stalls, I saw a beautiful UMV (Unmanned Vehicle for the uninitiated) standing in front of me. It was a great sight and I stopped to take this pic.

Tarique started laughing and said, "Thoda idar aa aur dekh".

Man!! I was awestruck,
standing before me were
scores of planes. I felt like
Charlie in the Chocolate Factory.

There were planes of all sizes and shapes and all nationalities. The sheer number of aircrafts standing there and the potent sonic booms of the planes doing their display sorties made my adrenaline rush high and I went on a snap clicking frenzy.

Following below are some of the best that I could muster.

This one (MI 35) was my favorite, a perfect beast for the war. Though slightly old model attack Helicopter has been my dream "flying tank" since I first laid eyes on its predecesor(MI 24 Hind-D) in Rambo.
The formidable one from another angle.
The Mirage 2000, another mainstay of Indian Air Force. It did a commendable job in the Kargil Conflict and I paid my homage to this old faithful one.
The MIG 35 is a strong contender for the 42000-Crores-for-124-aircrafts deal IAF is mulling upon. I saw the aircraft fly and was amazed by its capabilities. Not that I am an expert, but as a layman, the vertical climbs and the fast maneuverability reeked too much of raw power.

Now, how could I have missed these three cute little planes. They may have been very potent and lethal in their hey days, but today they were serving as mementos of the early flying days where air warfare was about skill and not technology, of man to man fight where the best man came out alive as the conquerer of the skies.
Seeing the mean machines together gives you feeling of power, as if you come to know how man has built these iron birds to reign the skies.
And then there was this small ALH Dhruv from our very own HAL. Initially skeptical about the capabilities of this aircraft, I was blown away by the group formation sorties done by the four brave test pilots.
If you see closely, you can see the sides of the chopper are painted like a peacock. The group's name was "Sarang" a sanskrit word which means "Peacock" in English. I hope you got the connection.
I missed clicking a snap of the F-16 Raptor, as it was stationed towards a no access zone, but was delighted to see it doing all the loops and flips during its sortie. I was disappointed to know that B-52's were not there coz it would have had been to see them too.

The best moments during the sorties were when the ingeniously developed (by HAL) LCA Tejas came in to do the sorties. It did all the maneuvers which the big boys from US, Russia and France did. As I stood there witnessing a marvel of Indian avionics, I was proud to be an Indian.

The Surya Kirans were also a point of high during the show, the way the six planes zoomed above our heads, leaving behind them a tricolored smoke was an out-of-this-world experience. To see these acrobatics on TV and to witness them first hand are on two different planes altogether.

After the air show, it was time to go and have some fun in the stalls. The first stop was at the HAL stall where I got into a fighter jet cockpit for the first time in my life.
I learnt all that here was to learn and finally came to a conclusion that flying a plane was much much more complicated than flying a kite (silly me!!).

So I finally came out of the cockpit and went to have some net practice first. At the boeing Simulator, the kind instructor tried to teach me everything in just a few stroke of keys.

And when I couldn't land the plane correctly in Mumbai, he tried to get me to take off a plane from Hyderbad and that too in the night. Poor choice, I would say, for I again crash landed the plane from where I started it.

So after dashing his dreams of getting a talented pupil, I came out.

Still eager to find something to take from there, I ended up inside the gorgeous belly of this fabulous bird. It was simply incredible to see that such a luxurious space can be created inside such a small plane.

Whatever happened to the cramped leg spaces of the passanger liners.

But this baby must have to wait for some time, I have something else too on my wish list.

Before I got out my credit card and swiped (against its non existant credit balance) to buy one of these boy's toys , I knew I had to get out as soon as possible.

So it was time to go home now. Satisfied with all that we had seen and done, we started back on the long voyage back home. Another day at fun for the Tiger!! Till the next time, Ciao.
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