Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Thousands of people of all age groups flocked to the Lake View Road and other vantage points around the Upper Lake on Thursday morning to watch the full dress rehearsal for the India Air Force (IAF) Air Show. From the children to the elderly, everyone’s eyes were transfixed on the skies, as aircraft and choppers flew in different formations, performing hair-raising acrobatics.
The day was perfect for an air show, with the sun shining brightly and a clear blue sky. Though it was a rehearsal, it seemed like the final show. The arrangements, the performances and the crowd were just like they would be on the final show on Saturday.
A sneak peek of the air drills, hinting at an upcoming event or celebration.
Most of the people were pointing their smartphones and tablets towards the sky, clicking pictures and shooting videos as the combat and other aircraft flew by and performed stunts.
Thursday being a holiday on account of Anant Chaturdashi, a large number of children, accompanied by their parents, turned up to watch the mesmerising show, which began at 10 am and concluded at 11.30 am. Many kids were wearing caps, with Surya Kiran written on them.
Eighty-year-old KV Upadhyay, seated on a stone bench on the pavement, his walking stick by his side, said that he had come from Indore, along with his six family members, to watch the show. “Maza aa gaya.We reached here at 6 am. On Saturday, I have some work so I decided to watch the rehearsal,” he said.
Dhruv (5) had come with his father from Piplani. “Accha lag raha hai. Jugnu helicopter is very nice,” he said, apparently referring to the blinking lights on the bottom of the choppers. Ramkrishna, a private sector employee, said that he had taken leave from his office. “I have been here since 9 am with all my family members,” he said, adding that if he gets leave, he would come again on Saturday.
Dr Shilpa Kamre, a doctor at AIIMS, found the show “amazing but scary.” Dhruvi Maheshwari (13), a student of Carmel Convent School, was elated to shake hands with Air Marshal Amar Preet Singh, Vice Chief of Air Staff, as his motorcade glided past her. “He asked me to join the forces,” she said, declaring that she wants to become a ‘general’.
People were also seen crowding terraces of homes, hotels and offices around the Upper Lake. The VIP Road was also brimming with people.
Cars of only dignitaries were allowed to enter the Lake View Road and others had to park their vehicles around Bharat Bhavan, Shyamala Hills Police Station and Polytechnic Square and walk the rest of the way to watch the show. After the show ended, the entire road was chock-a-block with people, with cars of top IAF and military and civil officials crawling. The traffic cops and men from the IAF Police had a tough time clearing the road for the cavalcades of the military brass.
Around 60 fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters participated in the show. They included Mirage 2000, Jaguar, LCA Tejas, Hawk, Suryakiran, Chinook, Chetak, ALH, C 130 and IL 78.
Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team, Sarang Helicopter Display Team and Akash Ganga team also enthralled the crowd. 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.