Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pride of being a defence man

I am still recovering from the fantastic display of aeroplanes at the Aero Show 2009 yesterday in Yelahanka, Bangalore. It is an annual show that attracts the who's who in the world of aeronautical engineering, not to mention, the flashier movie stars and business tycoons.

I have been to this show a couple of times earlier in the decade, but this was the first time I learnt something concrete. Courtesy, the company of some knowledgeable friends, who are analysts of this wonderful industry called aeronautical engineering! All these years, I used to go to this show just to experience the thrill of skillful pilots rip-rapping the skies and making displays that would make my jaw drop.

Of course, my jaw did drop this time as well; just that I was even more amazed when I learnt about all of the following - the risks that these pilots undertake, the kinds of technologies they handle, the criticality of each of the planes that they operate for national defence, the competition that goes on in securing deals in defence, the incredibly sensitivity of the information that these planes carry and provide to defence intelligence et al. It was an eye-opener.

The greatest moment of the day was not actually on display in the air, but right on ground zero. There were scores of uniformed men patrolling the entire expanse of land that housed the planes and passers-by. As we were walking under the blazing heat, there were a bunch of people who were taking photographs with an armed officer. My defence analyst friend, Brijesh, also went up to him and posed for a couple of photographs with him - only to return stumped! That armed officer had 4500 sorties on his uniform i.e. he had flown a fighter plane 4500 times in his life, successfully i.e. returned alive! That just made all the hair in my body stand erect - out of sheer respect for the man. Just imagine the kinds of situations he would have undergone in his life; the kinds of enemies he may have encountered in his life; the kinds of conditions he would have operated under; and the sheer horizon and level of thinking that he would have. Mind-blowing. Just made me appreciate and respect the uniformed officer of India that much more - as against the bashing that I have seen on TV shows. Hats off to such people!

Of course, on display were some great planes and the antics on display were stuff that one usually sees in Hollywood war movies (Indianised version here, though)! The display of the day for me, was, as always, that magnificent F-16! What a plane! What a sleek, magnificent, classy and incredibly dynamic plane!! The kinds of revolutions it made, the kinds of drones it made, the ease with which it flew at low altitude or rotated 1000's of feet up in th air, were just breathttaking. After a point, I stopped clicking photographs of the F -16; I just wanted to stand there and enjoy the display and internalise it for a long time to come. And both my friends & I thought that the pilot navigating that fine aircraft would possibly be one of the finest aviators in the world. Phenomenal!!

There were other classy performances as well -the MiG, the F -18, EuroTyphoon, and of course that captivating Sukhoi!! There was even a regular aeroplane standing on the ground - LuftWaffe - with people mistaking it to be the Lufthansa!:). But the powerful are some of the greatest 'brands' in the aerospace world, and to see them do the kinds of things they did in mid-air were scintillating. And to think, that these things that were putting up acrobatic after acrobatic, actually have the ability to knock out the world, with their missile powers...

The Indian versions of the planes were a touch more mellow - Saraang, Suryakiran - but powerful in their own right! But, they were more popular with the crowds there, as they let our steam in the form of the national flag!:)

The crowd was colourful too - what with Valentine's Day coinciding with this weekend schedule of the Aero Show!:).

At the end of it all, I saw the reason as to why a place like Singapore has its nationals compulsorily serve the city-state in their defence service. It instils an incredibly amount of pride for the nation, teaches a person a lot about handling extreme situations and I guess makes a person amazingly worldly-wise.

I salute the armed forces!


RS said...


Put up some of the shots dude... would love to see them!

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