Monday, June 15, 2009

Raining in Paris

A steady rain welcomed visitors to the Paris Air Show at La Bourget Airport in France this morning. The wet, gloomy weather matched the somber tone of recent events.

The crash of an Air France jet over the Atlantic earlier this month combined with the struggling commercial avionics/aircraft market has subdued the mood of delegates to the 100th Paris Air Show.

It's not all doom and gloom though. Unmanned aerial systems (UASs) continue to create quite a bit of buzz and long-term outlooks for manned military aircraft programs appear to be strong. One of Boeing's first announcements at the show this year was the formation of their Unmanned Airborne Systems division.

But the best thing of all about any air show is that you get watch cool planes take off -- if you're into that sort of thing.

This my first trip to the Paris event and being a journalist gives me the best seat in the house. As I write this I hear jets taking off right outside my window in the press tent.

There is also a balcony above me that once the rain stops provides the most excellent perch to see the live aerodynamics. Everything from new Air France cargo planes to zero gravity planes to Tigre helicopters are on display.

My first air show more than 20 years ago in Reading, Pa., was great fun, but there weren't European Space Agency Rockets parked outside the terminal.

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