Road Trip 2011: Walking around the largest air show in the world, you'll see generals, aviation enthusiasts, lots of planes, and everything in between.
Paris Air Show flying exhibition
PARIS--Despite the fact that many of the visitors during the first days of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget here are military personnel looking to buy their next order of helicopters or fighter jets, all the business seems to stop when it's time for the flying exhibitions.
Each day during the show--which is the largest air show in the world--the afternoon is filled with one flying demonstration after another, be it a bi-plane doing aerobatics, a giant Airbus A380 showing what it can do without the worries of upsetting passengers, or as in the case of this photograph, a fighter jet showing its chops. Each exhibitor is given six minutes to show their stuff. And then it's on to the next one.
Each plane that will be flying an exhibition flight at the Paris Air Show must be very slowly and carefully towed to the flight line, usually through large throngs of people who want to get as close to the aircraft as possible, even as it rolls along the tarmac. The job of keeping the audience back falls to a ground crew, and here we see that ground crew posing for a photograph with a giant Airbus A380--the world's largest passenger plane--behind them, about to turn onto the runway for its show flight.
At the Paris Air Show, there are top military brass from countries all over the world wandering everywhere. They can be seen in small groups, often with younger officers escorting a colonel or a general, or in large clusters, as in this picture. They come from many different continents, and it's clear they've come to the show to investigate what equipment to spend money on.
In this photo, we can see three planes that compete for the business of the world's travelers. On the left is Boeing's new 747-8 Intercontinental, which is expected to begin flying commercially later this year. In the middle is Boeing's 777-200LR Worldliner. And on the right is the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger plane.
At the Paris Air Show, it's all about where you're located. The biggest companies in the military and aviation business pay to have "chalets" located close to the flight line and the so-called "static displays" of airplanes on the tarmac at Le Bourget, the airfield that hosts the show. The chalets can be small and modest, or they can be large and extravagant. This is Boeing's chalet. Based on its location, a few down from the edge of the flight line, it's not quite as well-situated as that of Airbus, which is just adjacent to the flight line. Then again, Boeing is an American company, while Airbus is a European operation.
As each aircraft is taken to the flight line for its performance, crews must pull them through the length of the display area at Le Bourget. Often that can mean parting a veritable sea of attendees. Here, we see a military helicopter being pulled through the crowds.
Here's another performance plane, in this case a small bi-plane, being pushed through the crowd toward the flight line. This job is easy with a plane of this size, but when it's a giant aircraft like the Airbus A380, it is a huge undertaking requiring many people to clear the plane's way.
This is a golf cart being used by Northrop Grumman to drive U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) around the Paris Air Show. CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman spotted similar Northrop carts being used for other members of a Senate delegation to the show, including Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.); Sen. Dan Inouye (D-Hawaii); and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.).