I overheard an 8 year old girl saying ” I don’t want to go to that fighter aircraft alone as nobody is there to explain me about it”. It occurred to me yet again that museums should be explored in detail rather than just being touched. Yeah, a young girl reminded me how to visit museums.
Despite being a sunny day, it could not change my mind from visiting a museum which eventually turned out to be an extremely enriching and a proud to be museum. Along with my husband and few friends, I visited HAL Aerospace Museum last Sunday. It is located on the calm Old airport road and is spread over 4 acres of lush green lands. The museum over looks the runway of the old airport where tests and training for fighter jets are done.
As we reached the museum, I could not stop appreciating the beautifully done murals on the boundary walls of the museum premises. The museum thus engaged me from the moment I stepped at its gate. As soon as we entered, there was a walkway to the left as well as to the right. We took the left one as we could spot the life sized aircrafts displayed in a row. The crafts included Trainer, MIG fighter, pilotless target aircraft, bomber aircraft, search and rescue aircraft, passenger helicopter, hobby flying helicopter and so many more. What helped me understand their significance were the small blue description boards placed in front of the aircrafts but I wanted to know all the stories around those aircrafts and unfortunately there was no one to tell those.
As we walked further inside the premises, we spotted a small area dedicated to the Sustainable Development Park which exhibited the utilization of renewable sources of energy. The solar models demonstrated the usage of solar energy in heating water, lighting up of streets, power generation . The portable domestic bio gas unit model was installed for production of manure for plants. This small space and the demonstrations surely would have struck a cord in minds of children to inquire about those and learn more about the renewable sources of energy.
After taking few steps further, a herbal garden comes into view. The herbal garden occupies a very small piece of land but a lot of varied plants are well maintained in that area. I noticed a lot of gardening enthusiasts spending a good time in the herbal garden. The most interesting and appreciable thing was a huge green board put on the fencing of the garden. This board talked about the benefits of the herbal plants planted in the small pretty garden.
On our right side, we saw some more aircrafts and the one which caught our attention was the MiG – 21M fighter aircraft as we heard an 8 year old being so inquisitive about the nozzle gauge fitted in front of the aircraft. And it took all of us guessing what would be the function of the nozzle. My husband being an aircraft enthusiast took a guess saying it must be a gauge to evaluate the wind speed to which an air force guy corrected and explained that nozzle is definitely a gauge but to measure the air pressure. Woaaah, so much learning comes because of mere guessing conversations and precisely the reason to sometimes think aloud!
Next to the MiG fighter aircraft was a fully aerobatic pilot trainer to cater for roles like training of night flying, weapon training and armed patrol duty. Its covering window was slightly open just enough to insert my phone and click to view the cockpit from inside.
We walked a little towards to one of the two halls and spotted the helicopter named Dhruv. Dhruv caters to multiple roles for Army, Navy, Airforce as well as civil. Amongst all the aircrafts placed there, this one had the maximum seating capacity of 14 people. The disastrous moment of the day was to see the seats and interiors chewn by rats.
I had never seen a meteorological radar before this and was all ecstatic to spot it and read the description about the Radar. Another Radar which looked engaging was an L shaped band surveillance radar of 200 nautical miles which provides positional information to the aircraft.
The museum also housed some real engines like Garret (Dornier), Adour (Jaguar)and Orpheus (Kiran).
Here was the thing about which I had read the most in the newspapers and was really inquisitive about : A full size Heat shield of a PSLV. The heat shield houses the satellite which is to be launched into the space orbit. This shield protects the satellite while passing through the earth’s dense atmosphere. It is reusable as it explodes on reaching 110kms and falls down. There were a lot of technical details linked to it which bounced off my head 😛
The museum also housed a small cafeteria which did not have any hot food or beverage. So, it is advisable to carry your own food if you intent to spend 3-4 hrs in the museum.
The temperature kept increasing and we sighed a breath of relief on seeing the halls assuming those to have fans at the least but no respite there as well. Nonetheless, the determination to check out all the exhibits was strong enough to keep us going. This hall housed the prized possession of various types of Aircraft models on static display and a lot of technical details for aerospace enthusiasts.
On the 1st floor of this hall, there were games available on chargeable basis. We opted for the motion simulator game which accentuated the real flying experience and was definitely worth the wait in the long queue.
The last leg of the museum (which could be the first leg as well if we would have taken the right walkway upon entering the museum premises) was the hall which had the photographs displaying the growth and advancement of Indian aviation industry from 1940 till now. It also had photographs of political leaders from various countries visiting the HAL Aerospace centre. At the time of exit, we noticed a board mentioning about the free guide facility. So, when you plan to visit this museum, ask for the free guide.
My visit to the Heritage centre and Aerospace museum has indeed increased my interest in fighter jets and enriched my understanding of these to a great extent.
Entry hours : All days 9 AM to 5 PM
Entry Ticket fee : Rs. 30 per person
Motion Simulator game charges : Rs.50 per person