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Thousands flock to Bangalore air show

Posted on Feb 09, 10:12PM | IANS

Bangalore, Feb 9 : Thousands Saturday flocked to the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Yelahanka on the outskirts of Bangalore to watch in awe metal birds fly and perform breathtaking aerobatics.

Opening up the biennial air show to the public on the fourth day brought frenzied weekend crowds to see a spectacular flying display by fighter jets, choppers and military transport aircraft over the air base.

"It is exciting to watch these magnificent flying machines from so close and fascinating to learn how they perform daring feats in solo and in formations at high speeds," an elated aerospace student Arvind Nath told IANS.

The ninth edition of Aero India 2013 trade expo has been thrown open to public Saturday and Sunday after restricting it to official and business delegates for the first three days since Wednesday.

Though the five-day trade fair remained lack-lustre till Friday in the absence of many aircraft, especially fighters taking to sky as in its previous editions, the belated arrival of the charismatic Russian Knights, the aerobatics team of the Russian Air Force and its maiden performance brought life into the air show finally.

"It is wonderful to see four jets (Sukhoi 27) perform daring feats at different altitudes and speeds to demonstrate their amazing flying and strike capabilities," an excited 24-year-old tech Manoj Kumar said.

"It is a delight to at least watch them in action as the IAF has grounded its Surya Kiran aerobatics team in this show for technical reasons," Kumar said.

The Knights' shining aircraft in white and red, which was to land here a week ago for rehearsals and participation in the trade fair, were stranded in Kyrgyztan due to bad weather and a snag in one of their aero engines after they flew into India this week for clearance and check-up at IAF's Hindon air base near Delhi.

The team, however, performed thrilling aerobatics for about 25 minutes instead of its standard breathtaking 40-minute show.

"We hope we will be able to delight the people with our daring maneuvers in a clear sky at air display," Russian Knights commander Lt Col. Andrei Alekseev told IANS after the flight.

Besides, Knights, the flying display and dazzling aerobatics by Lockheed Martin's F-16 fighter, indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, IAF's roaring Sukhoi jet and the show-stopper Rafale, the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) the IAF selected to induct to replace its ageing MiG-21 jets of the Soviet era, held the crowds spell bound on a hot sunny afternoon.

Similarly, performance by Czech Republic's Red Bulls aerobatics team and IAF's Sarang aerobatics quarter in Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv drew huge applause from aviation enthusiasts who cheered their pilots all the way.

The IAF also flew its vintage Tiger Moth trainer for the first time in the air show though it was on a static display four years ago in the seventh edition of the event.

The US-based Boeing's C-17 roaring Globemaster-III, the high lift transport aircraft, which will join the IAF's fleet later this year, the weaponised version of ALH Rudra, its multi-role variant Dhruv and prototype of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) prototype were other major attraction.

Another star attraction at static display is the Swiss-made turboprop low-wing tandem-seat Pilatus PC-7 aircraft the IAF will induct this year to train its rookie pilots in basic functions, including aerobatics, instruments, tactics and night flying.

Billed as the largest event of its kind in South Asia, the international expo on aerospace, defence and civil aviation is also showcasing the latest products and technologies through 650 exhibitors from 27 countries including Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia, the US and Ukraine.

Organised by the Indian defence ministry in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the trade fair was flagged off by Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday in the presence of 78 foreign delegations, services chiefs, dignitaries and representatives of global aerospace majors.