SINGAPORE - Paya Lebar Air Base opened again on Saturday (May 21) to wow crowds with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Open House, after a five-year hiatus.
About 120,000 visitors are expected during the open house's public days on Saturday and Sunday.
They got to see a 30-minute aerial display, and some even got to take a joyride in a CH-47 Chinook helicopter over the Singapore skyline.
Chief of Air Force, Brigadier-General Mervyn Tan, said at the opening ceremony: "Through this open house, we hope to showcase the capabilities of the RSAF and to recognise our dedicated airmen and women for defending the nation's skies.
"We hope that members of the public will take away fond memories of the visit and a better understanding of the RSAF, and be proud of us."
The event gives visitors a glimpse of the Air Force's history and development through the RSAF Pavilion, an exhibition gallery.
RSAF personnel were also present to share their experiences and introduce visitors to more than 20 types of advanced aircraft and weapon systems.
These included the F-15SG and F-16D+ fighter aircraft, Chinook and Seahawk helicopters, Hermes 450 and Heron-1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and the Surface-to-air PYthon-5 and DERby (Spyder) ground-based air defence systems.
Visitors also got to watch fighter aircraft arming demonstrations by the RSAF weapon load crew, a parachute display by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) Red Lions, and the SAF Military Working Dog Unit in action.
For many families, it was a rare chance for their young children to see such an assortment of planes up close.
Nurse Rachel Wang, 34, brought her eight-year-old daughter Alice because "she loves to visit air force facilities".
They had hoped to ride in a Chinook helicopter, but were disappointed they missed out on the public ballot to do so. "That's her dream," said Mrs Wang.
For Madam Kim Bek, 65, bringing her sons to airshows has been a yearly affair since they were little. One of her sons, now 30, was so inspired that he is now a search and rescue pilot.
Said Madam Bek, a retired clerk: "I am always surprised at the variety of planes they bring out. It feels wonderful to be back."
For former air engineering officer Yong Fui Long, 53, Saturday's open house was a special occasion.
Mr Yong started his career maintaining Hunter fighter planes at Paya Lebar Air Base and rose to become in charge of logistics at Sembawang Air Base.
He would take his son Cheng Siang to the open house as a young boy. Today, the younger Mr Yong, 26, is an air force engineer following in his father's footsteps and taking part in the open house.
Said the elder Mr Yong: "The open house for me is like coming home. It's special this time because last time I used to bring my son, but this time, he brought me."
The open house will run on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm. Admission is free.
As public parking will not be available at the base, visitors are advised to take the free shuttle buses from Eunos Bus Interchange and Kovan Hub, public bus service 90, or taxis registered with the Land Transport Authority.