SINGAPORE: The Singapore Airshow saw more than 40,000 visitors on Saturday (Feb 20), the first day it opened to the public.
While it rained early in the day, the wet weather did little to dampen the spirits of visitors as the show went on for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and other teams performing in the morning. The South Korean Black Eagles also thrilled the crowd with their heart-stopping manoeuvres.
Shutterbugs on alert as the Republic of Korea Air Force's Black Eagles flies pass in formation. (Photo: Ngau Kai Yan)
"The best part was watching the aeroplane manoeuvres. It's very awesome and crazy. It increases my love for becoming a pilot. I hope to become one soon,” said Mr Ryan James Charles Babu, a visitor to the Airshow.
There was plenty to keep visitors occupied – whether it was trying out new technology at the indoor exhibition area, meeting the pilots or exploring the static display. Most found something to take away from their visit.
"I'm with the air force now, (and will be) starting my service term with the Air Force in OCS. So I think this is a good opportunity for me to learn about the systems. From whatever we've learnt from the textbooks we're now looking at it live. I think this is a good platform for us and for my family as well to understand what I'm going through in the service,” said Mr Shankaran Tanabali.
"Aviation is actually our passion, so being here today gives us an energy boost – we can actually be close to what we are interested in,” said Aerospace student Isaac Tan, while 12-year-old Benedict Liu said his favourite part of the show were the simulators.
Some arrived at the Changi Exhibition Centre on shuttle buses from the Singapore Expo, which were free for ticket holders, unlike visitors on trade days who paid S$8 for the service. However, the journey took some as long as an hour and a half.
Organiser Experia Events said there were "some delays" at Singapore Expo with a sudden influx of visitors after the weather cleared up, but added the situation improved after more shuttle buses were deployed.
There are also several aircraft on display for the very first time at this year's Airshow - including a RSAF F-16C Black Knight jet decked out in Singapore's national colors. The Black Knights had taken to the skies on numerous occasions during the country's Golden Jubilee year, and at the show, visitors can get a chance to have a close-up look at what it is like to take the pilot's seat.
The Black Knights F-16C jet on static display at the Singapore Airshow 2016. (Photo: Justin Ong)
Fifteen children from less privileged families in Sengkang South also got a special tour of the Embraer Legacy 500, an executive jet model also owned by international superstar Jackie Chan.
"It's the first time that I got to go inside a plane like that. It's like a condominium, and it’s very fun,” said a boy who had the opportunity to explore the jet.
VISITORS REPORT SHORTER WAITING TIMES FOR TAXIS, SHUTTLE BUSES
As the day wound down, visitors said getting out was relatively smooth. At around 3.30pm, some said the wait for a taxi was about 30 minutes. This is in comparison to earlier in the week, where some visitors and exhibitors reported waiting times of 2.5 hours before getting a cab.
Organisers said they have been working closely with the Land Transport Authority and local taxi companies to encourage more cabbies to pick up passengers from the Changi Exhibition Centre.
Ms Hazlina Ghafor, who was also a visitor on the first trade day of the airshow, said the waiting time a few days ago was about three hours. "Today, it might be less than an hour,” she said.
Those taking the shuttle bus said they only had to wait about 5 to 10 minutes in line.
With similar crowds expected on Sunday, organisers said they will continue to have the same transport arrangements in place.
The 2016 Airshow wraps up on Sunday. This weekend, 85,000 public tickets are on offer, with a limited number still available for Sunday.