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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aero India 2013 Review

The 9th edition of Aero India, the biennial air show and aviation exhibition, was in Bangalore recently from 6th to 10th February 2013. It was held at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, some 10 KM after Hebbal flyover, and 15 KM before the BIAL, Bangalore International Airport Ltd.

In general it was a great show, but, as you might have also come across, several visitors had even spelled out in press and media that the event was kind of chaotic, less impressive etc. Surely, setting higher bars for a better professional and more international class event management, and then really achieving it, will make this event more popular and gratifying. It has been announced that the next one in 2015 is also approved to be held in Bangalore.

The Layout of the Show

Click here for a Google map to Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bangalore.

Here is a quick review based on our visit to Aero India 2013 on 10th Feb., and some pictures at the end.

The Goods
+ It is a good venue to visit exhibition booths of several companies; 7 halls, some of them very large.
+ One can also see static display of several defence vehicles (surface and air) all over the place.
+ And to top it all, the air display circus maneuvers that adds several thrilling moments.
+ Saturday (9/Feb/13) and Sunday (10/Feb/13) were for general public visitors.
+ Business day tickets are costlier, at Rs 2000 per entry. Week-end general public tickets are cheaper.
+ It was Rs 500 for air display area alone; and Rs 1000 for exhibition area + static display + air display.
+ For Rs 500 ticket, Gate 8 entry had a parking lot and the air display location was a walk closeby.
+ For Rs 1000 ticket, there was a separate entrance and parking lot through Gate 5.
+ For Rs 1000 ticket, free shuttle buses from car park to somewhere opposite to the main entrance.
+ The Sarang helicopter team of four of Indian Air Force performed an impressive air display.
+ It was great to see Air Force staffs bringing around their kids and family members with pride and zeal.
+ It was a festive outing day for those Air Force men explaining about air-crafts, their capabilities, etc.
+ Though it was early summer in Bangalore we had a clear day (see photos) with nice breezy winds.
+ A giant screen projected close-up video of the air display events live, with avid voice commentaries.
+ Food courts had a wide range of stalls to choose from; though expensive, key is, they were there.

The Not so Goods
- Hebbal to Yelahanka traffic was clogged on many parts, due to ongoing elevated highway work.
- They had placed signs about Gate numbers and their purposes, but they missed Rs 1000 completely.
- We went to Gate 8 all the way 3 KM inside on the left hand side but that ended up wrong for Rs 1000.
- We then had to go "around" the entire Air Force Station some 10 KM, through villages to reach Gate 5.
- Gate 5 parking was way outside and away from the main gate by about 3 KM, difficult to reach.
- Parking lot was very unorganized; too many cars and too less staffs, they had no ability to guide.
- At some point people started parking even in the drive ways, blocking others cars from driving out!
- Exchanging online-booked-tickets for entry passes was done in a temporary shed near the parking lot.
- No one verified the declared IDs (Passports with Photos) when exchanging for the passes.
- The security check at the boarding point to shuttle buses was in chaos due to unorganized queuing.
- Though announced by a guard loudly, no visitors bothered to 'write' the Name and ID # on the passes.
- For Rs 1000 ticket holders, driving by our own car actually makes it tougher.
- Rs 1000 ticket holders had to reach Gate 5's parking lot all the way and then take the shuttle bus.
- In contrast, a BMTC Volvo bus from city would actually drop right at that shuttle bus drop point.
- Then it was about 1+ KM walk from the shuttle bus drop point to the exhibition halls.
- One had to cross the subway under the highway and cross 2 more security points by walk.
- The checks done at those security points were unmanageable due to huge public crowd.
- A guy at the 1st security point after the subway, tore our passes in half and gave us only the counterfoil.
- We were stopped at the next security point since we were the only odds with torn passes!
- The other guy had made a mistake; we were almost disallowed from entering / proceeding further.
- We explained our unawareness, that it was the other guys error, and our original photo IDs helped.
- The public crowd in the viewing area was so much, people sitting around on floors, eating, etc.
- The audio system used for the live commentary could have been of a much much better quality.
- Lots of people gathered and settled down for free show all around the Air Force Station.
- On the pavements of the highway, terraces of the surrounding homes, dry lakes nearby, everywhere.
- According to some people air display this year was not as fantastic compared to previous shows.
- And, long walks around, sweat, crowds, etc. during the entire time is something to be expected.

In spite of all the limitations and shortfalls, overall, it was all worth it and a good show that is not to be missed, at least for one visit. In fact, if you have a full day spared to spend, that will be nice and relaxing instead of rushing through.

Scroll down to see a lot of pictures. Take a closer look to get a better idea.

Click on the picture(s) to see a larger version.
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