Thursday, February 03, 2005

A tribute to the spirit of aviation

HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum
A tribute to the spirit of aviation
The Times of India

Bangalore: If Junior is spending too much time at the combat simulator on his computer or is in feverish excitement about next week’s Aero India show, it’s time to get real. Take him to the HAL Heritage Centre & Aerospace Museum. It’ll give him an idea of the right stuff.

Ever since Walchand Hirachand set up Hindustan Aeronautics Limited in the 1940s, Bangalore has been the mecca of Indian aviation. Hall I of this museum showcases HAL’s evolution over six decades. Apart from rare aerial shots of the airport and its surroundings and factory interiors from another era, there are endless photos of visiting kings, queens, presidents, prime ministers and the who’s who of India’s flight pioneers. Scale models of various aircraft have been tastefully mounted in the central section of each decade-wise display.

If Junior is bored by HAL history, fast forward him to Hall II. On the ground floor are actual aero engines of aircraft, past and present. Cross-section diagrams mounted on the wall highlight their complexity. After this appetiser, move him into the cockpit simulators. If he’s got a steady hand, maybe he’s cut out to be a pilot. Start saving for his flying school lessons.

Before he get his head among the clouds, he needs to keep his feet on the ground. So, show him the planes and choppers on display in the lawns outside. The latest addition and the centre’s pride and joy is the radar which was used at the airport until recently.

For the finale, take him to the mock-up of the Air Traffic Control where a helpful guide will take him through its workings. In fact, these trained persons are ready to answer all your questions and the library’s books are always available for reference.

There are plans afoot to make the centre better. As B.K. Pany, who is in charge, explains: “We’d like to make it a worldclass museum. Our endeavour is to kindle every child’s interest in aviation. The aeromodelling club will soon have competitions too.”

Ever since it opened in August 2001, about 7,000 persons (half of them children) have swung by this centre every month. If it looks beyond HAL, it could easily evolve into a tribute to the spirit of aviation, not just one company.

Take Junior’s sister along too. She may well end up being the pilot in the family. Safe landings!

Activity: Planespotting
Time: 9 am to 5 pm every day (open 365 days)
Place: Airport Road
Duration: 2 hours should suffice
Must carry: Notebook and pen
Cost: Adult - Rs 20; Child: Rs 10
Group tours: School trips welcome
Bonus: Grandstand view of commercial aircraft landing and taking off from Bangalore airport

Contact:
B.K. Pany, general manager (offg), Airport Services Centre and COEM, HAL, Bangalore Complex, Vimanapura, Bangalore - 560017;
Ph: 25220112, fax: 25221754;
email: gmasc@rediffmail.com

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