HAL Aerospace Museum, Bangalore, India
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL)
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) , based in Bangalore, was first established in 1940 as Hindustan Aircraft. They took on their current name in 1964. Today, HAL takes pride in being one of Asia’s largest aerospace company and rightfully so. HAL has signed deals to manufacture engines, spare parts and other aircraft components for companies like Sukhoi, Boeing, Illyushin, Honeywell and Airbus to name a few. In addition to parts, HAL also designs and manufactures their own airplanes. Their products range from fighters, helicopters, gliders, utility aircraft, agricultural aircraft, propeller and jet trainers, observation and reconnaissance aircraft. More recently, HAL also started developing unmanned aerial vehicles, and transport and passenger aircraft.
HAL Museum at a Glance
The HAL museum is the first of its kind in India. It was established in August 30, 2001 and it’s maintained by HAL. Don’t let that fool you, just because it’s maintained by HAL, doesn’t mean it’s only their aircraft on display. The museum also showcases the aviation industry in India since 1940.
What’s on Display?
Well airplanes of course, but beyond that, we have unmanned aerial targeting vehicle, a radar antenna, a PSLV heat shield, a mockup of an Air traffic Control tower (ATC tower) and a photo gallery that chronologically presents the growth of HAL, and the aviation industry in general, since the 40’s.
Well, without further ado, let’s take a look at what’s on display
After you buy your ticket and enter the premises, the first thing that catches your eye are the four fighters.
This aircraft was designed and developed by HAL and first flew on June 1961. The HF-24 was produced between 1964 – 1977 as a fighter and a trainer. The aircraft had two engines and was ideal for ground attack. The trainer version had two seats (2 pilots) in tandem with duplicated controls. The model on display at the HAL museum is a trainer.
A fighter and trainer developed by MiG and built in India by HAL (under license with MiG). This aircraft is ideal for tactical interception. The aircraft on display is a trainer (with two seats in tandem and duplicated controls).
Hindustan Jet Trainer (IJT-36)
This aircraft was developed by HAL for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft first flew on March 7th 2003 and it was meant to replace the HJT-16 Kiran (more details below) as a Stage 2 Trainer. It was designed as a conventional jet trainer – well it does look a bit like the BAE Hawk doesn’t it?
Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)
This aircraft first flew on 4 January 2001 and was partly developed by HAL. The LCA is a single seat, multi engine, all weather multirole tactical fighter.
I’m gonna let the description do the talking for this one
As you proceed further into the museum, you see;
The Canberra was designed by the English Electric Company and first flew on 13 May 1949. The Canberra is a multi role aircraft that’s still in use by the Indian Air Force (IAF) as a bomber, trainer and for high altitude photographic reconnaissance.
Sea King MK 42
Manufactured by GKN Westland Helicopters, this helicopter first flew in 1969. Still in service with the Indian Navy, this helicopter is used for anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, casualty evacuation, search and strike, and cargo and troop transportation.
Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH or Dhruv)
Designed by HAL, this helicopter in my opinion is HAL’s jewel in their crown. This helicopter first flew in 1992 and it was designed as a multirole helicopter for the Army, Navy, Air Force and civil missions. This is also the helicopter used in the Sarang display team. The military version has attaracted customers from Israel, Nepal, Mauritius, Maldives, Ecuador and Suriname. The civilian version has attracted customers from Turkey and Peru.
Developed by De Havilland Uk, this aircraft first flew in 1950. I have actually seen this type at the Al Mahattah Museum, Sharjah (Link: Al Mahatta Museum – opens in a new tab).
Air Traffic Control Radar and Antenna
PSLV Heat Shield
This is a full size heat shield of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). Well what does it shield? It’s a chamber that houses the satellite to be launched. The shield protects the satellite during the journey through the Earth’s atmosphere.
Designed and Developed by the National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL – this is the other aerospace company here in India). The Hansa is an all composite aircraft ideal for sport and hobby flying. This is also a good airplane for ab-initio training.
This aircraft is designed and developed by HAL and first flew in August 1951. This aircraft was produced between 1954-1964. This aircraft had a single engine, metal body, low wing and a fixed undercarriage. This aircraft had two seats in tandem with duplicated controls.
Kiran II (HJT-16)
As mentioned in the IJT section, this aircraft served as a Stage 2 trainer with the IAF. It was designed and developed by HAL and first flew on September 1964. There are two version of this aircraft – the MK1 and MK2.
Designed and developed by HAL, this aircraft first flew in March 1972. IT was produced between 1976-1983. This aircraft was mainly used in agriculture to aerially spray pesticides and fertilizers.
Pushpak first flew in September 1958, this aircraft was designed and developed by HAL to meet the training requirements of flying clubs. The Pushpak was produced between 1959-1971. This aircraft had two side by side seats and sadly the model on display was stripped out of its instruments.
Other displays in the ground floor of the Indoor Display
Upstairs, there is a mock up of an air traffic control tower with a great view of the HAL airport’s runway and the real control tower. Beside it, is a mock-up of a flight simulator (sadly, I didn’t photograph it).
Once we finish with the Indoor displays, visitors proceed to the Heritage Center which houses the photo gallery that chronologically presents the growth of HAL and the aviation industry in India. Below I present a few pics of interest.
I have been to this museum twice, once in 2007, and once again in 2008. Back in 2007, the museum was working on building a shade for the aircrafts in the outdoor display (this can be seen in some of the pics above!). In 2008, this was done. I recently came across pictures of the HAL museum exhibits on a photography website, and there seemed to be a few changes. For instance, the Sea King MK42 seems to have been repainted and a new exhibit, an HAL Ajeet (which for a very long time was placed in a roundabout in the city) seemed to have joined the growing list of outdoor exhibits. The airplanes on display are clean and well maintained. I would, however, would have loved to have an opportunity to sit in one or two of the airplanes on display. Come on, where else would you get a chance to sit in an LCA, Marut or a Dhruv?
The photographs on display in the Heritage center presents some of the rare moments in India’s then-fledgling aviation industry which is absolutely fascinating. Going back to 2007, when the HAL airport was Bangalore International Airport, it would have been a treat to watch airplanes take-off and land from the mock-ATC. Today, I’m guessing only a few lucky visitors would get to see some action, if any (mainly by IAF fighters, helicopters or private aircraft). I don’t think the mock-ATC should hold anyone back, this is a great museum with some rare (and in some cases unique) airplanes on display. If you happen to be in BLR, I highly recommend a visit to this museum.
Well there you have it, my review of the HAL Aerospace Museum in BLR. I hope you enjoyed it and as always comments and suggestions are always welcome. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@av8radi) for the latest updates on what I’m upto and what I’ll be uploading.
I wrote an article a while back on the HAL airport: HAL Airport (opens in a new tab)
Until my next post, Happy Landings!!!