Thousands flock in as air show opens to public

February 12th, 2011 - 5:22 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 Bangalore, Feb 12 (IANS) AeroIndia Saturday became a grand public event with thousands of people, young and old, flocking to the venue to witness scintillating flight displays and breathtaking aerobatics by a range of metal birds.The five-day biennial military-cum-civil aviation trade expo opened its gates for the public Saturday after the first three days for exclusive business interactions.

The show will conclude Sunday.

“We are expecting about 100,000 footfalls during this weekend when the air show is thrown open to the public after three days of serious business,” an official told IANS here.

Amid tight security arrangements, enthusiastic visitors from the city and outside thronged the sprawling Indian Air Force (IAF) base near Yelahanka for a close look at the fighter jets, transport aircraft, choppers and a range of aerospace systems, including radars, aero engines and aviation equipment.

As the expo venue is located on the busy national highway, 20 km away from the city and 10 km from the Bangalore international airport, the thoroughfare was choc-a-bloc with hundreds of vehicles waiting for their turn for parking.

With the two-hour-long flying display beginning at 10 a.m., there was a scramble for vantage points to view the magnificent take-offs and the aerial exercises.

Though the sky was clear and windy, hundreds of viewers, especially women and children had to hunt for shelter to avoid the beating sunrays while gazing up.

When the sub-sonic Surya Kiran trainers took to sky in different formations, the crowds went into ruptures, cheering and clapping even as the jets left behind a trail of smoke in Indian tri-colours.

The smooth take-off and dazzling display of its potent strike force made the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas cynosure of the crowds, drawing applause and admiration.

The world’s smallest multirole fourth generation fighter rolled, soared and dropped vertically to fly upside down.

The dazzling display and daring aerobatics by the medium multirole combat aircraft of Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Boeing’s Super Hornet F/A-18, Gripen of Saab and Rafale of French Dassault and Typhoon of Eurofighter had the crowds in awe.

“It was wonderful and exciting to see the metal birds from so close on ground and in air, performing the way they do in battlefield. It’s one event I look forward to every two years,” an excited Alok Kumar, a college student, told IANS at the expo.

Echoing Kumar were Ravi Ranjan Singh and Saureb Singh, higher secondary students of Kendriya Vidyalaya, who said they are fascinated by the aircraft, especially the fighters.

“We can walk, run and swim. But we need these magnificent machines to fly like birds. Flying is more challenging than any other feat,” said Ravi, a 14-year-old, who dreams of becoming an air force pilot.

Shama (25) and Bindu (20), classmates in a city college, woke up early to make a beeline to the venue to ensure they don’t miss the flying display.

“This is the second time we are coming to an air show. We see lot of improvement and changes for better. There is more technology and products on display,” Shama said after viewing the US pavilion.

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