Air shows are normally an occasion for military brass and decision makers from across the world to meet, network, update themselves and talk shop. Striking business deals is the aim but they are done in peace later, away from the din of planes roaring overhead.
What we connect and recall about aero shows, however, are the somersaults, the thrilling formations and stunts that the heavy metal birds perform.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to open the Aero India 2015 air show and exhibition on Wednesday morning at the Air Force Station Yelahanka. Defence Ministers or officials of equivalent ranks of six countries — the USA, Russia, Israel and Germany among them — will add to its importance.
The show to be held from February 18 to 22 promises to be yet another air extravaganza for lakhs of Bengalureans and outsiders. By footfalls, this is going to attract 3.5 lakh visitors, the biggest Indian show ever, according to organiser Defence Exhibition Organisation (DEO), an arm of the Ministry of Defence.
So, get set for a visual feast.
This time round, the DEO has roped in six aerobatics teams. Watch out for women aerobats walking on plane wings as it flies, and sky jumps by U.S. Special Force.
Then there will be the Indian military planes and helicopters, the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, the Sukhoi-30 MkI medium fighter and the newly-purchased Pilatus basic trainer from the IAF and HAL stables. A highly expectant Dassault of France has brought in three Rafale fighters: this plane is shortlisted to be bought for the IAF.
The stalls will have real-size or small models of a few fighters, as well as cockpit simulators, which will draw many visitors to the exhibitor stalls.
Perhaps, they are jaded but, Aero India regulars say this year’s show is certainly not of the scale of the 2007, 2009 or 2011 editions. That was the time when five big companies were hard-selling their fighters and jazzing up the pitch by bringing in Ratan Tata, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and other celebrities to fly in their planes.
Union Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy, who has a commercial pilot’s licence, is scheduled to fly in one of the Indian formations.
The theme is ‘Make in India’, the new Indian refrain that invites defence and civil aerospace manufacturers to think of manufacturing in the country.