What is it?
Aero India is India’s biennial international airshow and defence exhibition. 50 countries and hundreds of companies attend as well as thousands of visitors to watch the acrobatic displays of the jets.
When and where is it?
Tuesday 14th February to Saturday 18th February at the Yelahanka Air Force Station. It is 7km, less than 5 miles, from our house. The airshow times are 10am to 12 noon and 2pm to 4pm. It is far too hot for spectators to be out in full sun between noon and 2pm…but we were and we felt it!
Jets have been arriving over the last few weeks and practice displays started around 4th February. The action increases in the afternoons with many displays being practised over the final weekend before the show commenced. The final full day of practice was Sunday 12th February. Many locals have been watching from the bunds at the edge of the airfield in the searing 37C heat. School children have been watching from their classrooms and playing fields as the flight path goes directly over them. (This would not be allowed in the U.K. in case of any accidents).
The sale of meat has been banned in the whole area for a week before the airshow. This is to ensure that the incorrect disposal of meat doesn’t attract birds which may cause a bird strike to a jet and cause an accident.
The roads around the airforce base have been quickly resurfaced and some rubbish has been cleared away. The perimeter wall has been painted white in the final run up to the show. A temporary elaborate entrance has been erected and roads have been replanned.
The Air Show
The first day was quiet. Having heard many jets flying low practising over the previous week I had expected deafening noise on day one, but this was not to be. Apparently the helicopters took to the skies and displayed. There were many spectators on the bunds at the edge of the airfield watching. It turned out that many people who had bought tickets for the event had been denied access and tickets cancelled without notice.
Saturday 18th February – the journey
4 hours sat in traffic for a journey that would normally take 10 minutes. Two wheelers took to the pavements to get through. The airport flyover was closed to all but VIPs causing a traffic jam. Police had no idea where cars where supposed to go or where to collect tickets. We were given instructions to go to Gate 2. At Gate 2 we were surrounded by at least 8 police men banging in the car and telling us to move on- but to where? We pulled over further down and asked and were directed to Gate 5. That would mean a U turn and be stuck in traffic again. This was the actually traffic management plan. Whilst stuck in traffic our driver asked the people in the car next to us – only then did we get correct information. Park the car at Gate 5, collect tickets and enter via gate 2.
The field was massive and no one was controlling the parking. Whilst Rez joined the massive queue to collect tickets we joined the even bigger circular queue to get the bus to Gate 2. Some people tried to merge the queues just as we neared the buses but the police were quick to intervene with their batons separating the queues back out. As it turned out just as we got to the front of the queue for the bus Rez had just collected the tickets. Perfect timing.
A short bus journey later we disembarked and walked into the base. After being crushed and pushed through various queues and scanners and checks we finally made it into the exhibition area and joined another queue for the ladies loos. Two toilets (filthy and flooded) for the whole exhibition area. We stood in the searing temperatures and waited and waited. Finally we were able to use the filthy floooded facilities – out of desperation.
Static display areas
Lots of planes on display and lots of companies in the buildings. There were some impressive jets and planes.
Ice cream sellers and sweetcorn sellers but no real food available. Only coke or water available and no shade. We later discovered there were food tents back near the entrance to the exhibition area – but there was no signage anywhere to indicate that.
The displays were of course excellent. The jets are always very impressive as are the synchronised display teams. There were even wing walkers doing a synchronised display which was particularly impressive. The very low flying is something we don’t get to see in the UK either.
Aero India 2018?
There are rumours that the air show will be held in Goa in future so that may well have been the last air show in Bangalore. The traffic management won’t assist in their bid to hold it again in Bangalore. Only time will tell what will happen in the future. We certainly won’t be able to experience it again in any event.