Having given 30,000 hours of service, the TU-142, aka “Albatross” (a regular defence codename), welcomes one and all in its splendour and glory at the Beach Road in Visakhapatnam. Occupying a pride of place opposite the Submarine museum, this also is a similar display of a defence machine ’s interiors. But unlike the INS Kursura trip that takes you through the submarine with historic details, “Albatross” involves a couple of pit stops as well.
The first stop is the museum. As one walks in, the automatic doors slide open to take you through the history of the “Albatross”. Though not aboard, one will get a good background about the flight. One also gets to see the missiles, along with real parachutes, the orange coloured “black box” and the sonar devices which help airplanes detect enemy submarines displayed here. The purpose of each of these is elaborated on display boards, and one also gets to feast their eyes on the holographic displays en route. Life-size statues of the Albatross crew is also installed and after one has seen these, you next take the stairs to board the sentinel itself.
With panels removed to expose the working of the plane, one also gets to see the missiles and how they were once dropped on to the enemy. Carbon dioxide based fire extinguishers, workstations and the tools the team used to watch the high skies, make you proud.
The trip seemed short, ending with one having to disembark rather quickly. But the memories of the experience stay longer. As people walk around the aircraft, taking selfies, the last stop for many youngsters is the virtual reality room. Beckoning you to learn flying, this is where you can get on one of the many rides for a fee and experience a roller coaster trip or learn to ride an airplane.
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