A few boys gathered in the courtyard, sounding very excited. I got a bit closer to see what the hullabaloo was all about. There was Salu in the middle, kneeling down and pushing a little toy aeroplane around on the floor. The other boys wanted to have a go too. But Salu was picky. He allowed only a couple of the boys to touch his magnificent silver and red one rupee tin aeroplane he had just bought from the parish fest. Salu did not think much of me. I was four. In his reckoning, he had no gain in granting me the privilege to touch the special object. I had to make do with seeing the super hornet from a fair distance.
That was many moons ago.
Since the time Salu showed off his toy aeroplance, I have been fortunate in seeing many different aeroplanes of all shapes and sizes. Initially looking up at the sky and stating authoritatively whether the plane, getting ready to land at Bajpe, was a Dakota or an Avro. Later on, either travelled by some of them, or was lucky enough to appreciate their beauty at the air shows.
Brian with a cute twin-seater
But none of those experiences could be compared to the richness offered at the Avalon Air Show. I visited Avalon with my son on Saturday, 25th March 2007. Now a word must be said about my son Brian. He has done a few things without taking his parents into confidence. Like hitching a couple of rides on the twin-seaters using his pocket money. So keeping him tethered to my eyesight was incredibly important. One more ride, especially in my (absent-minded) presence, and the dear wife was going to certainly throttle me.
Running for the sixth year, the Avalon air show had almost everything a plane enthusiast ever wanted to see and hear. There were more planes on display than there are cococnut trees on the banks of the Maravoor river. Well, almost.
The Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets, currently in service in the US Navy, were a great deal better looking than Salu’s little tin hornet. With their earth-shattering staccato thunder becoming audible much after the plane had whizzed past in front of you, the Super Hornets seem to be able to do anything they want to do in the sky – shooting straight up to beyond the bare visibility, flying great distances on their side, aerobatics beyond belief.
For once, I tolerated the Dockyard Road petrol smell. Without complaints. 10 minutes of the Super Hornet flight possibly burned more fuel than the whole of Mumbai in one week. Well, almost.
In short, if there is something ultimate that I want to buy, it will be a Super Hornet.
But I will have to rob a bank first.
A Super Hornet costs about AUD 100 million a piece. The Australian Air Force is buying 24 of them at a cost of about AUD 3 billion. Never mind. Even if I can’t own one, as a taxpayer I have some share in the Australian Air Force purchase, I guess.
There were plenty of other planes, of every shape and size imaginable. From the tiny single-seaters, to the ‘golden oldies’ of 1920s, 1940s Douglas DC-3 Dakotas, Hawker Siddeley Avros of 1960s, modern giant military transport planes, to ultra-modern Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, Avalon had them all.
Most interestingly, the main pavilion had eight national flags flying. India’s was one of them. Go India!
And unlike my acquantance with Salu’s prized possession, not only did I manage to touch many of the Avalon thunder-birds, but also got an opportunity to get into some of them.
Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
Singapore airforce super puma
Author: Bert Naik- Australia