I am sure that a lot of people don’t know that the tiny city-state of Singapore with around 4.5 million residents has more than one Airport. In fact it has several of them. Most visitors to Singapore only know about the one that is called Changi International Airport and is a gateway to this country. Older generation people, who have been to Singapore in the 70’s and 80’s will remember that they used to get in and out of the Country from an Airport called Paya Lebar. Well, that is still there, although not used for civilian flights anymore.
I am located temporarily at another civilian Airport in Singapore called as Seletar Airport. There are some charter and scheduled flights to nearby destinations from this Airport and it also has a small immigration and customs counter. Those of my readers who read my earlier blog called “Fast Jet from Oz” will know that I flew the Premier 1 “sexy jet” (as a pilot magazine has called it) from Sydney to Singapore, alighting at Seletar Airport.
The Airport is located towards the north of the Island of Singapore. As one takes off towards the straits, the Malay Peninsula comes up immediately. The runway and Airport complex is surrounded by two Golf courses; one of them is a public course. At one end, near the terminal is the Seletar Reservoir, a large lake caused by a dam built across a river and this reservoir is one of the primary sources of drinking water to Singapore. The scenery is green and fabulous, in this entire area. I have seen water monitor lizards casually walking across the greens and some of the arterial roads around here as well. Very cool!
The latest news about Seletar is that the Singapore Government has announced that this place is going to be made into an Aerospace hub attracting massive investments, Aircraft hangar and maintenance facilities and creating around 15,000 new technical jobs. Singaporeans are confident that projects that are announced by the Government are taken up expeditiously and this one, with new buildings, new roads, runways extensions, tarmac expansions and many civil works will be completed in two years. Well, I can’t say we can compare with anything in India with this; India’s pace of doing things is pathetic and poor quality to say the least. I have heard that Singapore plans everything 10 years in advance. We in India plan 10 years from now what we needed ten years back. C’mon, everyone knows this, even die-hard, chest beating, flag waving patriots.
Anyway, back to Seletar, there are a few Aircraft Maintenance facilities here at the moment and they are also set to expand. Just yesterday, I came across a small company with vintage Russian AN-2 biplanes and AN-12 cargo Airplanes standing on the tarmac. It seems this company flies around the Indonesian archipelago, collecting fish for import into Singapore. They fly fish in biplanes!! Fantastic, the scope of business and ideas that can come up in the business of aviation. Biplanes, for those who are not initiated into aviation, is an Aircraft that has two sets of wings, mounted parallel to each other. Most of the First World war and earlier warbird were Biplanes. Even Wright Brothers first design, the “Flyer 1” was a Biplane. Monoplanes are what we have in the World today.
Seletar has a bright future, so does Singapore. Wish we had farsighted officers in India who put action into their words and make such facilities for aviation in India. If Mysore can get half of what Seletar is going to get in two years, we should all be having a party to celebrate.