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An educational experience at the Naval Aviation Museum in Bogmalo

Goa is not just a holiday destination. All of history and culture has led to it being educational as well. Education is not just relegated to schools and colleges. There’s education to be found in visiting the museums that exist in the state. We’ve got the Goa State Museum at the old Secretariat building in Panjim, the Museum of Goa in Saligao and also the Museum of Christian Art in Old Goa. The Museum of Goa is purely dedicated to art and artifacts related to the field of art. And now there is also a really cool Naval Aviation Museum in Bogmalo, Vasco.

Airplanes are fascinating for everyone

Most kids have a true fascination for airplanes. They hear about these flying machines from their parents from an early age. Babies get to hear ‘airplane’ sounds at meal times. So this is something that is firmly embedded in their minds almost from infancy. Adults are not to be left behind either. Airplanes are just something everyone enjoys. Whether it’s being on one or just watching a fleet of them do all kinds of fancy, acrobatic manoeuvres, it’s fun for all.

A small story from Goa’s history

Goa’s only international airport is in Dabolim, approximately 4 kilometres from the centre of the city of Vasco da Gama. Planes take off and land here every day no matter what time it is. This airport is controlled by the Indian Navy and is also a main point of defense in the country. The airport has evolved quite a bit since it was first built. In the 1980’s there were hardly any commercial flights landing and taking off.

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After it’s construction, the Dabolim airport was initially only used for Portuguese military aircraft and later the TAIP and TAP Passenger planes. Just as Goa was being liberated from the Portuguese regime, on December 18, 1961, the Indian Air Force bombed the runway. The mission was to render the runway useless without damaging any other property. This was ensured by a Goan air vice marshall Eric Wilmot Pinto and his squadron of bombers.

They took off from the Sambra Airport near Belgaum and dropped almost 63,000 pounds of bombs on Dabolim airport’s runway. The last two Portuguese passenger planes were almost stranded but the Portuguese soldiers temporarily patched the runway giving them a chance to take off. They flew to Karachi en route with Portuguese passengers. It’s said that they were intercepted by the IAF before crossing India’s border but were allowed to leave once the pilots informed them that the only passengers aboard were women and children.

Since then the airport has seen both Indian Naval aircraft as well as commercial airliners take off and land here. The Navhind Times has more information on this.

The Naval Aviation Museum at Bogmalo

The Naval Aviation Museum at Bogmalo has 13 decommissioned naval aircraft to look at. It is located in Bogmalo which is around 6 kilometres from Vasco, on the way to Bogmalo beach. Inaugurated on 12th October 1998, this is a military museum. The Naval Aviation Museum contains exhibits that showcase the evolution of the Indian Naval Air Arm over decades. It’s divided into two main parts, an outdoor exhibit, and a two-story indoor gallery. When the museum was inaugurated, there were just 6 aircraft. Today, it has 13 decommissioned aircraft to look at and learn about.

Given that the Indian Navy is so important to our history, it is sad to learn that the museum has not been given much publicity and remains unseen and unvisited. An even more important fact is that the Naval Aviation Museum is the only one of its kind all over Asia. No other place on the continent has one.

The museum is divided into an indoor gallery and an outdoor exhibit

The outdoor exhibit at the museum is a huge park that houses the 13 decommissioned aircraft. Visitors can walk around and check out each of them.

These include:

Short Sealand Mk 2
Fairey Firefly TT Mk1
HAL HT-2
De Havilland Vampire T-55
Hawker Sea Hawk FGA Mk 100
Breguet Alizé
De Havilland Dove
HAL Chetak
Hughes Hu-300
Westland Sea King Mk 42
Lockheed L1049G Super Constellation
Kamov Ka-25
Sea Harrier FRS.51

Inside, visitors can read and learn about key battles the Indian Air and Naval forces have participated in. The indoor gallery is divided into special room depending on the kind of exhibit. There is an Armament room, a Sonobuoy room, the Suraksha Room, a  Multimedia Room and even a room showing how the Navy’s uniforms have evolved through the years. Also on display are many rare and vintage photographs and documents that show several important periods in Naval Aviation History from 1959 onwards. One gallery also holds massive replicas of the INS Vikrant and INS Viraat. Check out the GTDC article on the same.

It’s definitely worth a visit. There is an entrance fee to the Naval Aviation Museum of approximately 20 Indian rupees. The museum is open all days except Mondays, from 10 am to 5 pm. A trip to the museum is educational and creates an inspiration in youngsters, encouraging them to join the armed forces.

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