Curtains fall on air show

Curtains fall on  air show

Now or never. The message seemed written all over, as the surging crowds at the just concluded Aero India 2015 at the Yelahanka Airbase appeared to believe this would be the last air show in Bengaluru.

Although he refuted it, Defence Minister Manohar Parikkar’s glaring non-inclusion of a date for the next air show in his inaugural day speech offered enough scope for the speculation.

Visually, the 10th Aero India did stand out for the multiplicity of aerobatic displays. Unlike the previous editions, this show had five teams even if the Surya Kirans and the Russian Knights were sorely missed. The Brietling Wingwalkers, dancing and balancing on one leg on low-flying aircraft, stole the show with their daredevilry. It was something Bengalureans had never seen before.

The mid-air collision of two Flying Bulls aircraft was unprecedented. The damage was severe enough to keep the entire aerobatic team grounded. Yet there was a feeling of relief as the destruction could have been much worse. The pilots had steered the two aircraft to safety, avoiding the big crowds.

Big ticket business deals between aviation majors apparently gave this air show a go-by. There weren’t any announcements of note.

However, the shadow of the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) loomed large with the French doing some aggressive showcasing of their Rafale fighter jet. An exclusive, very visible stand display by Eurofighter was a subtle statement that the makers of the European Typhoon jet still harboured hopes of bagging the 126 aircraft MMRCA deal if the Rafale did not find favour with the Indian Air Force.

The ‘Make in India’ message was all over the air show. The flying and static displays of the Light Combat Aircraft, Tejas were perfectly timed and suited to drive home this point. The Americans seemed determined to showcase their growing relevance in the IAF's scheme of things, a far cry from the Russians who kept a low-profile. The giants, Boeing C-17 Globemaster, the KC-135 mid-air refueller and the P-8A Posedon aircraft dominated the static displays for a purpose.

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