It is 7:00, and we’re in a cab, headed to the Airport! Or, Railway Station? Nope, we are going to the Aero India Show, the second largest air show in the world. At the Air Display Viewing Arena, the crowd is all lined up and excited. I roam around the field to find a good photographing spot. As soon as a fighter aircraft takes off, the loud noise silences everyone and makes its presence felt. The afterburners would make the sky rumble and vibrations reverberated through the area.
The show starts with the Indian Made Air Borne Early Warning and Control System (AEWACS) built by the DRDO on the base of an Embraer jet.
Next up, is the indigenously developed LCA Tejas. The first indigenous fighter aircraft takes to the skies with the shouts of jubilation from the crowd gathered here. The Tejas performed feats in the skies, it did loops while leaving smoke trails, a delight to the photographers.
It showed its high maneuverability and took sudden turns in the sky, sped to the sky at verticals and dived at speeds more than Mach 1. As it landed, the public cheered for the new aircraft in the skies.
Engines start, “Shhhhhhhhhhh”, it’s the Sukhoi 30 MKI, a multi-role air superiority fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is recognizable because of its twin vertical stabilizers and highly slanted cockpit.
“It is the Skycats”. On a bright yellow colored bi-plane called Catwalk, two women perform stunts and walk on the plane while it does manoeuvres in the air.
It is one of the most awaited events of the day and get a rousing reception from the public as it soared above the runway.
The women walks on top of the plane and slid off between the wings in mid-air! It does loops while emitting powerful white smoke.
As soon as the Skycats disappear, two yellow and blue painted biplanes swoop down from the sky and do vertical loops while the smoke does wonders at the back.
They line up for collision course and fly-past at barely meters away from each other.
Then one of them flies straight above the runway while the other circles around the smoke left by the former.
Next up is the Yakovlevs aerobatics team from Britain. It’s a team of four planes, who take off amidst much cheering.
Straight on, they go on vertical loops barely meters away from each other and while the three planes fly straight, the other one moves around the smoke trails.
Then, they go up in a loop and the trails are just amazing to behold.
India is soon going to induct two-hundred new single engine fighter jets; the Lockheed F-16 and the SAAB Gripen are contestants for this. Both of them have put forward attractive offers to set up production facilities and world class centers if their planes are chosen and both of them attended this Air Show to prove their worth to the Air Force.
Next up is the F-16. “Woah, tis is fast!” It takes off in a jiffy and regularly disappears into the clouds. And it zooms past at a spectacular speed.
Next up, the Sarang helicopter acrobatic team of four. The helicopters have a bright red tinge and a peacock painted at the back.
After taking off, the helicopters go for their signature move, three helicopters go for a vertical and separate at the top.
Handling helicopters at such high speeds and making them do vertical loops is tougher than doing the same with a jet because they are highly unstable. The team regularly does verticals over the runway and the smoke issuing from the back makes it a captivating moment.
As the Sarang team lands, the SAAB Gripen takes to the skies; it has four wings, two smaller wings at the front.
The jet heads for the vertical and displays its prowess and agility at manoeuvring through the open-skies.
It twists and turns, it somersaults in mid-air, again speeds to verticals and dives at great speed while the sound of the plane follows the latter after a gap of seconds.
Last display of the day, the Surya Kiran Team with six planes. Three planes take off together from one runway while the other zoom behind them. The red-white striped planes are a beautiful contrast to the blue skies.
They flow in rows of two and make aircraft formations. Verticals and twists and turns follows. By then, it is noon and the planes disappear in the bright sun.
As the crowd begin to settle, three aircraft soar over the runway with the middle one flying upside down the whole time.
Cheers from the crowd who has thoroughly enjoyed this extravagant display and enjoyed the Aero Show 2017. I, for one, am glad that I didn’t miss it.