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Aero India 2017 concludes with soaring crowds

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IAF's Sarang helicopter aerobatics team dazzles in the sky during Aero India 2017. A PIB photo

BENGALURU (PTI): The biennial Aero India show came to a close on Saturday with the event turning into a carnival during its last two days as lakhs of people thronged the Air Force Station at Yelahanka in Bengaluru to witness the aerial feast.

The 11th edition of the five-day event began on Tuesday with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar making a strong pitch for 'Make in India'.

Aero India 2017 turned out to be big sheer in numbers with no mega defence deals on the ground.

With reports of Goa being considered for the next Aero Show, and no official word yet on the 'Aero India 2019,' speculations are rife that this will be the last Aero Show to be held in Bengaluru, where aviation industry has flourished over the years.

Recently, reports have emerged quoting Parrikar and Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar hinting at the biennial event being shifted to Goa.

Lakhs of people turned up on Friday and Saturday when the show was thrown open to the general visitors with the road leading to the air base on city outskirts being choked.

According to official sources, nearly five lakh people have visited the event, of them about one lakh were business visitors.

Braving the hot weather, people crawled through heavy traffic on the highway headed to the air base, which presented the picture of a sea of humanity, with crowds jostling for vantage places and craning their necks to witness the daredevilry of aerobatic teams from across the globe.

Besides, 65 ministerial and other high-level delegates from several countries that attended the event, the exhibition at the show saw participation from 549 companies, out of which 270 were Indian and 279 foreign.

A five-member Chinese delegation from the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) attended the show for the first time.

The show turned out be a huge attraction for aviation aficionados who thronged the event to witness the static and air display by various aircraft, including fighter, transport, helicopter and aerobatic display teams.

Aero India saw participation of about 72 aircraft and witnessed enthralling stunts performed by helicopter display team 'Sarang', and 'Surya Kiran', Russian-made Yakovlevs and SKYCATS - Scandinavian Air Show aerobatics teams.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)-developed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Cheetal helicopter, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Hindustan Turboprop Trainer-40 (HTT-40), Dornier Do 228 along with indigenously upgraded Hawk Mk132, named as Hawk-i and vintage Tiger Moth aircraft also performed breath taking manoeuvres.

Home-grown LCA Tejas along with Sukhoi (Russian), Gripen (Swedish), Rafale (French), F-16 (US), Pilatus (Swiss) aircraft roared the skies with their daredevilry stunts.

Embraer 145 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft equipped with the first ever Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) radar, and LUH were displayed for the very first time at the Aero Show.

It was a special occasion for Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) as they marked their 500th public display since formation in 1996.

SKAT, with a fleet of brand new single engine jet powered advanced Hawk aircraft and redefined manoeuvres, was back after having skipped two editions of the Aero India.

The Hawk aircraft are faster and more manoeuvrable than the Kiran aircraft SKAT used earlier.

There was also a static display of HTT-40, upgraded Jaguar and Mirage 2000, LCH and LUH at the air show along with few foreign aircraft.

Elaborate security and traffic management arrangements were put in place by the city police for the smooth conduct of the event.

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