One of things that a traveller should do is to always ask what are the unimportant things to see when you visit a place? I’ve often noticed that we have wonderful experiences going to places which locals think are insignificant or unimportant.
One such place near the new Bangalore airport happens to be Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. India historically has never been renowned for excellence in defence and defensive/ protective equipment. Or fighter planes for that matter. Still we have to be lauded for making an effort.
And the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd Aerospace Museum is just about that. Bringing to a country’s notice that while it had worried about growth and political economics of deficits and quotas, HAL has manufactured over 3658 Aircraft/Helicopters, 4178 Engines, Upgraded 272 Aircraft and overhauled over 9643 Aircraft and 29775 Engines.
While I was not someone who was interested in aeronautics unless it was mentioned in a work of fiction, my dad was and still is an enthusiast for any new technology especially aerospace and robotics. So this was a wonderful experience for all of us.
When we were dropped off to the door, I was surprised. I didn’t expect a museum to have large gardens, contemporary colours and wide paths.
There is a main building and also some models which have been displayed out in the gardens. These include models that the HAL has indigenously developed and also those which have been manufactured from Russian blueprints under technology transfers.
Most of the aircrafts are displayed outside the museum except HUL-26 Pushpak and the HAL Basant. The photo gallery of the museum contains pictures of Vengeance bombers under construction in the 40s, Dakotas being overhauled, Tempests, Devons, under overhaul in the 50s, Vampires, Gnats, and Maruts under construction in the 60s. An air control building is also available in the museum. there was also the Sea King MK 42 helicopter on display. Air Traffic Radio Antenna and Radars dot the landscape.
Models of GSLV and PSLV Satellite launch vehicles are also exhibited. The Museum also houses a small souvenir shop that sells mementos, postcards and posters. There are also aircraft simulators, air traffic control towers and an aero-modeling club. (=www.bangaloreorbit.com)
Every model that is displayed has information at the side about the features like Period of Production, length, span, height, speed, rate of climb, range etc. it was interesting to read all these details. In the building there are also models of the HUL Pushpak and HAL Basant along with pictures of everyone who visited the Museum. it was heartening to see the way everything had been preserved. It is said that pictures always have their own story to say.
It was a really proud moment for us when we saw the indigenously developed models like Kiran. It made me proud to know about all this because when you read the papers, it is almost always a regulatory fault or a collapse of systems and every blasphemous articles berating India.
Another thing worth mentioning is the Aircraft simulators. Priced very cheap (Rs 50 per person for half an hour) you get to sit inside an aircraft and modulate controls and there is a screen that shows you the aircraft. In a way it resembles a video game with controls. But who are we to have a first class experience at piloting, so we did it, and I crashed my aircraft two times ;).
The best part is the Aviation Traffic Control or the ATC. Photography is not allowed so I don’t have any to show. But the ATC there opens to the Bangalore Airport where you can watch the planes take off and land. There is a simulation of an actual ATC with the controls and everything. A security guard explains everything to you about the controls. it was fascinating to see the number of controls that one person needed to man.
There was also a café where we stopped for tea. The HAL Museum was eye opening. I never knew that India had done so much in aerospace. Like all the books I’ve been reading, I thought that India used to have a treasure cove of intelligence but that drained over the years. I used to always think that Museums are boring and for the bookworm types. But that opinion has been changing lately
After this wonderful experience in the HAL Museum, we went to meet my cousin and her baby!! After a morning in marvel, it was time for an afternoon of fun!!