Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): The sun was harsh, the crowd was mammoth and the traffic was crawling - but nothing could deter lakhs of Bhopalites from hitting the streets to watch the dazzling spectacle that unfolded in the skies.
The India Air Force (IAF) Air Show over the Upper Lake in the city on Saturday was a mega hit, with an unprecedented number of people desperately looking for vantage points.
Enthusiastic spectators reached Lake View and VIP Roads as early as 6 am, a full four-and-half-hours before the show commenced at 10 am.
Ten members of the 3-40 years age group of a Muslim family from Guna were one of them. “We all are staying with our relatives in Shahjahanabad for the past four days. We watched the full dress rehearsal and today, we reached here at 6 in the morning because we knew that if we got late, we won’t be able to enter Lake View Road as we didn’t have passes,” said Seema Nazib Ahmed.
Some Rent Lake View Hotel Rooms, Other Climb Rooftops
Sunil Kushwaha, a farmer from Sehore, along with his wife and two kids, was elated that he could make his way into Lake View Road, taking advantage of the melee. They had stationed themselves on the Road at 7 am.
Others took a different route. Industrialist Manoj Gupta and his artist wife Shalini had booked a room at Hotel Ranjit Lake View for the night. “We had to spend Rs 5,000 but it was worth it.
What we saw was wonderful, amazing,” said Manoj. By 9.30 am, the entire Lake View Road was a sea of humanity, dotted by colourful umbrellas.
Actor Shalini Gupta with his Industrialist hubby Manoj | FP Photo
And there was not an inch of space to spare on the entire VIP Road. And so were all the roads leading to and around the Upper Lake.
As the IAF fighters and choppers performed breathtaking stunts, the crowd reacted with loud roars of applause and cheers.
“Inohonein dil banakar Bhopal ka dil jeet liya,” said Archana Gupta, referring to the shape of heart pierced by an arrow, weaved by the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team. Priyanka Gupta and Nazir were waving the national flag.
Excited Kids | FP Photo
The kids were the most excited. Kaustav (9) and his brother Raninav (8) were so impressed that then and there they decided to join the forces. Paridhi Pande (8) could not stop shouting in amazement. Her mother said that it was an ‘incomparable experience’. Shivali Shrivastava (12) found the coordination between the pilots ‘superb’.
For Harpreet Singh Gadhokm, who retired from the IAF as a Group Captain six months back, the show brought old memories rushing back. “It is a feeling of deja vu,” he said.
Most of the people were busy clicking pictures and shooting videos on their smartphones as the combat and other aircraft flew by and performed stunts. A selfie point, where one could get oneself photographed wearing an IAF uniform, was also a major centre of attraction.
Two stalls selling T-shirts, ties, keyrings, caps, wallets and coffee and bear mugs printed with Surya Kiran and Sarang logos on Lake View Road also drew buyers
Tiranga, Trishul, Diamond formations
The show began with skydiving from a MI-17 helicopter, with some of the divers holding the tricolour in their hands. That was followed by two giant Chinook helicopters stationing themselves just above the Lake, their huge twin rotors sending waves rippling through the water.
Next, four Chetak helicopters flew past, carrying the national flag. They were followed by three Surya Kiran planes emitting smoke of the three colours of the Tiranga. Three ALH MK III choppers flew past in Rudra formation and 3 SU 30s in Trishul formation.
An IL-78 transport aircraft and two Mirage 2000 gave a demonstration of mid-air refuelling. Other aircraft which took part in the show included Jaguar and Tejas jets and C-130 and AN-32 transport aircraft. The Sarang Helicopter Display team formed heart and diamond shapes in the sky.
The show ended with hair-raising aerobatics by a team of nine Surya Kiran Hawk aircraft. The stunts performed included roll, loop, barrel low, low pass and climbing turn. The choppers flew at a height of 300 feet, whereas the transport planes and fighter jets flew at 800 feet. A total of 60 aircraft took part.
Family from Sehore | FP Photo
An IAF team comprising Squadron Leader Jagriti Mukherjee, Group Captain AL Bhargav and Flt Lt. Jasleen Kaur, among others, gave a running commentary of the show. A 15-member team from 4 Air Formation Signals Regiment, Allahabad, provided signalling and communications support for the show.
Family from Guna | FP Photo
Guv, CM, IAF Chief attend show
Governor Mangu Bhai Patel was the chief guest at the function. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, along with his wife Sadhna Singh was also present. Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari, Chief of Air Stall, Air Marshal Vibhas Pande, AOC-in-C, HQ Maintenance Command and Air Marshal RGK Kapoor, AOC-in-C Central Air Command were also present.