Aero India

I experienced the Aero India 2005 show yesterday. That was the first ever time that I saw an air show, live. It was mind-boggling, given that I am fascinated by speed.

The viewing area had a fleet of aircraft parked, separated from the crowd by just about 30 feet. That's how close we were allowed. The USAF had brought in two f-15s and a couple of transporters. There was a german transport, the LCA, the MIG-21, the MIG-29, the Sukhoi and the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT). Also on display were a few light aircrafts and microlites.

The LCA (light combat aircraft) is a laudable achievement for India. The LCA drew a lot of cheer from the crowd, when it thundered past us performing some cool maneuvers. The Saarang copters in their dainty colours were a treat to watch. As a friend said, they looked like guppie fish. :) Many other copters displayed their capabilities - the Chetak, etc. Another feather in India's cap - the IJT. It is a trainer aircraft that HAL developed on its own. Well, a better value for money than the Hawk from UK.

Later, the MIG-29 shot past doing some 900kmph. Amazing! The host announced the MIG's slow speed run at 240kmph. Slow? 240 kmph? Earth shattering pull. The MIG performed some really awesome loops and other cool stuff. The thing I liked most was to see the MIG rush away in a straight line leaving its exhaust note trailing behind.

Out of the blue came the Jaguar flew by, again at awe-inspiring speeds. The Jaguar did not perform any radical moves. It was just a display of speed. Not a wonder because AFAIK, the jaguar is a fighter-bomber and wouldn't need too much agility. Agility is only for air superiority aircraft like the MIGs and the Sukhoi. That brings us to the Sukhoi or the Su-20 MKI, with its thrust vectoring system. The thrust vectoring system from what I know, makes use of a movable exhaust to help the aircraft move sideways as well.

The Sukhoi took off in style and even while it was gaining height, one could see the exhaust move as if it were some flexible tube (it is not a flexi tube in case you are wondering). Neither the MIG nor the Jaguar could beat the noise made by the Sukhoi. It could blast out your ear drums. The thrust vector means that the Sukhoi has some marvellous tricks up its sleeve. Imagine an aircraft speeding in a straight line and suddenly it shifts left almost at right angles and starts to move in a parallel line. That's the kind of move we are talking about. The Sukhoi did a slow speed run of 180kmph. It looked almost as if it had stalled the engine or something. Wonderful aircraft! Undoubtedly the best of the lot.

The best display was yet to come. The Suryakiran aerobatics team. With multi coloured smoke trails and some very cool and precise formation flying. It was shocking to see how much precision the stunts required. One wrong move by one pilot and that's it. They performed some high speed head on runs - whatever they are called. It was cool.

After watching all these wonderful birds, the exhibition itself was not so thrilling. Except for the other birds ;-)... The exhibition was too technical for me to even begin to comprehend. But we got to oggle at some models - model aircrafts, that is.

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