Saturday, August 30, 2008
RSAF Open House
It is a miracle!
Well, for the first part of the day at least.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force Open House 2008 celebrates its 40th birthday today. The day held up its sunny side fortunately. It was totally wet in the late afternoon, but we will never know how wet the visitors were since we were already home when the skies opened-up after 5:00PM.
Paya Lebar Airbase was before Singapore's second airport terminal after it moved from Kallang Airport.
The constant need to accommodate for travellers throughout the years, Changi International Airport is now and will definitely be the last move we will see, since it has grown to 3 world-class terminals and a budget terminal as well.
Back in those days, Paya Lebar Airport was practically my neighbour. Our village was separated by the airport high-wired fence. Every now and then, big aeroplanes would fly pass our village with its wheels out ready to land.
The big jumbos were flying so low that I felt I almost could touch its belly with my hands stretched out... at least in my dreams as a child. The Concord would rattle the knick-knacks in our homes the worst whenever it flew over.
At times we would see large bellowing black smoke up in the sky. Everyone in the village would rush over to the edge of our village, hands clamped to the wired fence to see the "commotion."
Nothing terrible had ever happen though. No planes ever exploded as far as I can recall. The thick smoke would be coming from the air-crash landing practices the airport fire-fighters did every now and then.
Taking a cab ride, I could still see the warehouse which became the landmark a few years before our village was bought-over by the government for redevelopment. It brought back so many memories, yet so many more had faded or already forgotten from my mind.
Boy, if I had pictures back then, I would share them with Wifey and Sonny... and you too.
Well, back to the present.
The day was hot. Cannot complain as it should be else there will be no air show. We reached the entrance at about 10:15AM.
There was already a large crowd queuing through security checks. It was a tough time for some children and old people especially waiting for their turn in the hot sun, frying on the tarmac.
The 8 parachutes welcomed everyone there at about 10:30AM. Then came the F-16s, Hercules and Chinook Helicopters, making the beginning of the Open House 2008 with an air show.
The static displays were impressive. We would have gone through them all, if not for the long line waiting. The heat wave rising from the burning tarmac had us retreated to the displays in the hanger for most of our visit.
I especially like the night vision experience. The totally darkened rooms became impressively clear using the night-vision binoculars. Wonder if such gadget is sold legally here? It would be a great toy for me. Camping or nature watch for nocturnal animals would be great!
We had hands-on with SAM or Surface-to-Air-Missile that weighed 18Kg. I also got to try shooting down enemies from a helicopter... I felt like Rambo for a moment, only less ripped.
Sonny had his hands on the explosive finder. He found the buried 25gm "bomb" within seconds.
The Hot Air Balloon, oh, the hot air balloon...
As expected, it was probably the highlight of the day. Everyone tried their luck by means of a lucky draw coupon dropped in at the centre stage, instead of queuing for a ride. I think this method is ingenious to avoid frustrated visitors not getting a ride eventually after queuing for hours in the hot sun.
We did not have a chance... neither did thousands too. We waited for the hot air ballons to take off from the carnival field, but it never did take off... even until we left the place. Not really sure cloudy weather prevented it from taking off.
It would have been great as it would have been the first few hot air balloons floating in Singapore skies. It would have been a rare sight here captured with my own camera.
Ahh... weapons of destruction... so intriguing, so destructive. Hopefully we will never need to use it either for defense or strike on our soil or others for a long, long time.