Aero India is a premier aero show hosted jointly by various defense organizations of India. Since its inception in 1996, it is the 10th edition. All the edition of Aero India has taken place at the Yelahanka Air force base, Bangalore. It is the largest air show in the world after Paris air show.
symbol of India’s Make in India campaign
Aero India 2015 was inaugurated by Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and the push for this edition was his vision of Make in India. In 2011, I visited the aero show for the first time on its 9th edition. This is the second time, I have visited the aero show. It is a thrill to see military hardware and brings an adrenaline rush when we see wings on fire. This time Aero India took place from 18 – 22 February 2015. As usual the last two days are on public holidays and results in more rush. This year it seems to have attracted more than 300,000 spectators. Tickets for general public are priced at Rs 600 and for business visitors at Rs 2500. But looks like general public can also purchase business visitor pass. People with Rs 600 ticket need to go to the ADVA area and business visitors / VIP pass holders can enter directly through the main gate of Yelahanka air force station. Vehicle parking is available but given the amount of visitors, finding space may be difficult at times.
In 2011, I have been in the ADVA area. It hold a public exhibition of miniature models of various Indian aircraft, timeline of Indian Air Force etc. The air show viewing area here is best for viewing and taking photographs. This time in 2015, I was in the business area. Here one can see the stalls of exhibitors from various countries of the world. They display avionics for business. This includes the top names in military hardware manufacturer in the world. I could see Rolls Royce, Thales, Meggitt, Dassault Aviation, SAFRAN, Rockwell Collins, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky, GE Aviation etc. From the India side was PSUs like HAL, DRDO etc. However, it was great to see many private Indian defense companies like OIS AT , Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd, TATA Advanced Systems etc.
Outside the business exhibition area was display of aircraft and military hardware. Missile launch system by TATA Advanced System (TASL) was also displayed. On the other side was Rafale aircraft team which was distributing Rafale caps and bags. This resulted in a mad rush in that area. I was able to corner two bags. But I wanted a cap. Luckily I was able to exchange one bag for a cap with a gentleman.
By the time I reached Yelahanka Air force station, it was time for the last show. The first thing I saw in the sky was the Rafale sortie. Its vertical thrusts and free fall were a treat for the eyes. This followed by Advanced Light Helicopter of India produced by HAL, Red Bulls air display by the Czech team, Boeing C 17 Globemaster, Lockheed Martin P3 Orion, Dhruv helicopters etc. We left the aero show by 3.45 pm as we had to go to airport. It is located at a distance of 17 km from there. But to get a bus that day was tough. The bus stands has been moved away because of the aero show. The traffic policemen I asked were themselves not sure. Finally, I boarded an auto. But as autos are not allowed inside the airport. Near the airport over bridge, I booked a taxi to airport. Crowd management inside the Yelahanka air force station was good but outside on the road was a free for all. People were just parking besides the road to watch aero show from there. This was causing traffic bottlenecks. While returning from the airport it took me 2 hours to reach home.
Aero India is expanding and gaining name with every edition. As of now it is the largest air show in Asia. With more exhibitors wanting to join, the space at current venue may not be enough. There are already murmurs that the next edition of Aero India may not take place in Bangalore. But the defense ministry of India has not taken a official decision yet.
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