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HAL - a golden era in aviation

Thursday, May 22, 2008

/ by Srikanth Eswaran

As I watching TV yesterday night, speaking with my dad, my mind was still afresh of my experiences with HAL - both as a company and as an airport for Bengaluru. I had also just returned from a photo shoot on my terrace on a rather overcast day with the clouds preparing to cool down the tempers of heated Bengaluru on the airport discussion.





Over just ten minutes of talk with my father, I realized atleast seven aircraft had crossed my terrace. Such was the progress of the city’s air traffic that it has now necessiated a more modern airport that can handle air traffic and passenger movements in a more coordinated and efficient way. Barring the few minor accidents such as the Kingfisher aircraft going nose down on its belly due to a mere small animal like a stray dog and a few technical snags (whatever that always means) that held up a couple of international airlines from taking off, the only major memory I have of any serious accident is the most infamous plane crash that happened in Bangalore city in 1990 which left 90 people charred and dead most of them being ladies and children who would all have perhaps completed their education by this time, had they been alive.



As per the eye witness reports the plane touched the golf club ground, rolled for about 100 m and then crashed to tank bund of challaghatta tank. Due to this impact, the engines and wheels disengaged from the plane. From there the plan, due to accelaration crawled in to the challaghatta tank area.





Picture courtesy : Karnataka Fire Department


The last I know of the Bengaluru airport when it started off is when I got a chance to go to the view deck and say "Bye" to my uncle who was on a flight going to Chennai. It was such a thrill just having felt lucky to see an airplane those days. The ATC itself was more of an extremely simple tower which had the "Oh-I-am-so-simple" kind of look with no sophistication attached to it.





Picture courtesy : Nitin M Nair


From those days when life itself was a simple affair, to these days, when even skies have been crowded, its been a 25 year growth of Bengaluru that has indeed left the people in need of something better. The sheer volume of the planes in the skies has made it difficult for HAL to handle the current traffic. The proof is in the pudding (my terrace)








Its always nice to welcome new developments (even if they are far away) and March 24th hopefully would see the gala opening of the new BIAL (Bengaluru International Airport)




It is but tough to comprehend that HAL is indeed closing down for now until some solution is worked out for the controversy on keeping two airports open. Moreso, since I was involved in a project at NAL (a related entity - National Aerospace Labs) ! I cant forget those days, when we used to take long drives to reach Belur - a little known place behind the runway and the chalagatta valley for our project work. It is during those times that we got to see many a plane land extremely close to our driveway scaring the wits out of us! It was such good fun and these precious moments would be missed for a very very long time to come. No matter what an international airport offers in terms of facilities for wearied travelers, the old charm of HAL will always remain fresh in the minds of those who have experienced it, including me.


Adieu HAL, Bienvenue BIAL!


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