Big Names And Big Planes At The International Air Show in Paris, 2011

It’s an extravaganza and Paris is the place to be if you’re an aircraft enthusiast. The International Air Show, being held in Paris at the Le Bourget Airport, was thrown open to the public yesterday, four days after it started on the 20th of June. You might want to hurry, as it closes on the 26th of June. Here we give you the scoop on the gala event the big news, the big names and some stunning photos.

The Le Bourget on Day 1

An introduction: A brief one

The International Air show has been occurring since 1908 once every two years, twice interrupted by the two world wars. Since 1949, it has been held in odd years. Paris’s Le Bourget has been its location. It’s the most prestigious event in the aviation industry and certainly the largest. Paris Air shows have been known to be the place where big deals have been made in the past. It has been the focal point where huge number of exhibitors showcase their products, innovation gets noticed and big companies announce big planes and massive deals.

While the first Air Show saw 380 exhibitors, the present one boasts exhibitors numbering well over 2000. The show has been visited by 138,000 as per the official count till today. That can only increase exponentially during the open days from 24th to 26th.

The show pieces

If you’re planning to go to the show, there are two flight simulators to help you realize a real flight experience. (Entry fee:   €5 per person).

The premier this year is the Solar Impulse. It has been built by engineers at the prestigious Ecole Polytechnique Institute and it aims to circle the world, powered by only solar power. One of the builders, Bertrand Piccard, co-piloted the first balloon across the world. He wants to do it again and in style. The plane is a small and light aircraft, designed for solo flight. It delivers the power of a scooter using batteries that will be charged during the day, while in flight, and will be enough for night flight. It is a Special Guestat the Air Show.

The Solar Impulse
The "Special Guest" at the Air Show

There will be other pieces of genuine inspiration on display. One of them being the biofuel powered aircraft design made by EADES – ZEHST – that can fly at supersonic speeds. (We told you the amazing story here). Further, there is an Austrian innovation of a wingless aircraft. (We told you about this too.)

The Big Players

Both Airbus and Boeing, rivals, have unveiled new aircrafts and have done big business signing bills worth big bucks. However, Airbus has completely outdone Boeing in this respect. However, that’s another story for some other time.

Airbus showcased its A380, the grand old warhorse in the civil aviation sector since 2005. It has seen a huge number of orders, the largest from Emirates (90 orders). The smash hit from Airbus has been the A320 neo.

The A380 takes flight
The A380 majestic in flight
The A320 Neo

Boeing showed off its Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the 21st of June.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Several military aircrafts were also put on display. The US Air Force performed a test flight of the Boeing C-17 GlobeMaster III on the 23rd of June. Rafale, made by Dassault, a fighter jet, was test flown and what a spectacle that was!


The Rafale
The Rafale test flight at the Air Show
The Boeing C-17: From the cockpit
The F-16 fighter jet showcased
The Amphibious aircraft Beriev Be-200 sprays water as a demonstration at the Air Show

Actor and star John Travolta added some celluloid glitter as he climbed in the cockpit of a Lockheed Super Constellation.

Actor John Travolta at the cockpit

Remember that the extravaganza ends on the 26th.


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Debjyoti Bardhan

Is a science geek, currently pursuing some sort of a degree (called a PhD) in Physics at TIFR, Mumbai. An enthusiastic but useless amateur photographer, his most favourite activity is simply lazing around. He is interested in all things interesting and scientific.