Proud wings of a nation

Proud wings of a nation

The HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum is a storehouse of everything related to the science of flying, writes Gopal Sutar.

Want to fly an aircraft without a license and experience the thrill without fear? Want to see the black-box of an airplane which is actually orange? Or do you just want to be amidst old trees and green surroundings where real planes and helicopters are on display? If yes, then head to HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum, the first of its kind set up in India at HAL Airport Road, about 10 km from Bangalore city railway station.

Established in 2001, the aviation museum is spread over 10 acres of lush green land. “It is indeed a rare tourist attraction in the city. You can see a dozen aircraft models, satellite launch vehicles (GSLV, PSLV) and fly the aircraft on simulators,” says HAL Chairman R K Tyagi.

“We have done some modifications in last few months so that the history and the achievements of the country in aeronautics are displayed in eye-catchy ways,” he adds.

“Bangalore is not just the IT capital of India but an aerospace hub as well. One should not miss this museum, the experience of which is as good as that of being at Lalbagh or any other tourist place in the city,” says an engineering student from Pune.

A repository

In fact, it is a completely different experience to be at this place when one goes through the rare photographs, audio visual shows and sees magnificent planes on static display. Although HAL airport does not operate commercial aircrafts anymore, panoramic view of the landing and takeoff of various aircrafts and helicopters could still be experienced as chartered and test flights takeoff and land regularly. The entire stretch of runway could be seen from a dummy air tower.

The Museum is a repertoire of knowledge for the academically-minded as it houses a library on aerospace and traces the development of the industry’s exciting phases since 1940. “With so much happening in aerospace industry, it is important not to lose sight of the past. Our aim is to preserve the history of aeronautics and we are happy that museum elucidates so much interest and has become part of tourist attraction in Bangalore,” adds Tyagi.

There are two major halls, one displaying photographs that chart the growth of aviation in each decade from 1940 till date. The second hall displays motorised cross section models of aero engines, highlighting various functions of the engines. Some real engines such as Garrett (used on Dornier), Adour (powers Jaguar) and Orpheus (used on Kiran) could be seen in operation.

Very few people know that HAL produced buses for the erstwhile Mysore kingdom and there is a mural depicting this scene dated January 29, 1955. Besides displaying aircraft and aviation models, this hall also demonstrates air traffic control models and PC-based flight simulations.

The Museum has got the prize possession of 15 types of flying machines on static display. Efforts are being made to place more aircraft on display including the much talked about fighter aircraft, Sukhoi Su-30MKI.

Visitors seem to get excited when they see actual line parachute alongside a plane. There is also ATC radar perched with L-band surveillance radar having a range of 200 nautical miles which rotates at a speed of 3-4 RPM, with the frequency of 1250-1350 Mhz. In addition, PSLV model and PSLV heat shield are displayed to give a glimpse of forays made by the country in the space technology.

“We would like to upgrade the museum on a continuous basis and therefore thinking of introducing latest flight simulators, interactive display kiosks, and upgrading the audio-video room with the latest facilities,” says Tyagi. “We would like to go for motion simulators to accentuate the user experience by giving a very realistic feel of flying fighter jets and commercial aircrafts,” he adds.

Looking forward

Some of the future plans include establishment of orchidarium and herbal garden to add to the beauty of the existing landscape. The challenge would be to create and maintain extremely hot and cold conditions for flowers and plants to grow and sustain. An area of 200 sq m area has been suggested to begin this experiment and may take some time to conceive and implement.

Apart from this, a children’s play area and a sustainability development park may also come up in the campus. The sustainability park will aim to educate visitors and students by displaying mock models of solar systems, bio-gas plants and hybrid wind mills.

The museum is not just a place for fun, frolic and education, rather it is instrumental in chronicling the achievements of India in the aerospace sector by showcasing the growth of the Indian aviation industry and HAL for nearly eight decades. The Museum is open to public from 9 am to 5 pm on all days.

There is a cafeteria, rose garden, aquarium and a fountain display to keep the visitors’ interest alive in case they get tired after walking around the campus. You can also buy airplane models, T-shirts, caps and have your pictures embossed on cups as memorabilia at the souvenir shop in the campus.

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