By Sangeeta Saxena

Yelahanka, Bangalore. 21 February 2019. What started on a sombre note turned out to be an elbow to elbow jostling and bumper to bumper personified situation by the Day1 ended at Aero India 2019.

With VVIP visitors thronged by hundreds of officials, photographers and starry eyed common man the corridors of the Halls turned out to be an experience of a life time in trying to make way to the various stalls to cover the event. And all this when the number of exhibitors are way too less this year and the entry ticket rates are exorbitant. Business visitors get the widest access at  Rs2,750 per day. The General Visitor ticket is priced at Rs1,800 per day, and it gets you access to the exhibition as well as the Air Show. The Air Display Visitor tickets are priced at Rs600 per day, and it gets you access only to the flying display area. Not surprisingly the crowds are the free entrants of the organiser’s and workers’ families, friends and acquaintances and ofcourse not to forget the officers and men of the defence and para-military  forces and their families. ADU had a perfect time doing a vox-pop of the crowds.

The airshow despite the fatal tragedy a day prior attracted the maximum crowds. The  flypast had the Made in India Tejas flying  which was the biggest attraction. Under the clouds of political controversy the French fighter all set to be a part of the IAF fleet  Rafale made the supersonic entry  with a breath taking sortie and ended with a tribute to the fallen pilot in the Surya Kiran crash. IAF flew a “missing man” formation of three of its fighters – a Sukhoi-30MKI flanked by a Jaguar and a Tejas light combat aircraft flew to honour its brave pilot. The show commenced after observing a 2-minute silence to pay homage to Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi  and as  a tribute to the martyred pilot, the Surya Kiran team decided not to participate in the show.

As Aero India 2019 is a baby with shared by MOD and MOCA, speaking at the inauguration, Union Minister Suresh Prabhu said that Indian currently has 103 airports and that they aim to build 100 more in the coming years. “We want to connect remote areas of the country to air, investing 65 billion dollars. Under the Udan scheme, we launched a program to connect 235 new destinations.”

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “Aero India intends to put India on the global map. It will show India’s prowess in defence and aviation over the years. PM Modi has repeatedly called Indian entrepreneurs to rise and help the manufacturing sector in India under the ‘Make in India‘ campaign.”

There are eight halls but the most interesting is the Start UP India, Stand UP India and Make in India Hall G which has a runway made to model size along with all indigenously made products by HAL, DRDO and Brahmos. The Hall F is for the Skill India programme and had participants from the academia and industries along with the NSDC. But sadly both these Halls were a little away from the main area and hence attracted very little attention.Hope the word of mouth catches up and more people visit them.