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26 Aug, 2007 12:11

MAKS 2007 beats all attendance records

It's been the last day of Russia's biggest air show MAKS 2007. Some 100,000 visitors have been on the airfield in the city of Zhukovsky outside Moscow this Sunday.

With record numbers of visitors, millions of dollars of business deals and increased foreign interest, MAKS 2007 has been hailed an overwhelming success.

More than half-a-million people passed through security to watch the various aircraft take to the skies and perform jaw-dropping routines.

They also got the chance to get up close to the passenger planes and military jets on the ground and even chat to the pilots in person.

The air show has drawn to a close, and its main achievement, organizers and top officials believe, is the number of visitors.  

“Of course, one of the most important results of the air fair is the number of visitors. Some preliminary results say 600,000 spectators have come here – almost 100,000 more than two years ago. I think this figure could be even bigger, but the weather, problems with transportation and other things may have put many people off from coming to the show. But still the number is massive. I think there’s no similar event in our country,” noted Boris Aleshin, the head of Federal Agency of Industry.

Meanwhile, Nikolay Dimidyuk, Director for Special Commissions of Russia's defence exports organisation, Rosoboronexport, said MAKS 2007 was definitely a success, the most impressive thing being its scale, as about 800 companies have taken part in this show.

Once through the gates, there are lines for just about everything: food and drinks. You can get inside the plane and see the view from the cockpit, although you have to wait for the experience.

But something you don’t have to queue for are the spectacular flight displays. And it is not just planes on display, but also the sky-divers.

Alongside the very latest in aviation technology, some old Russian favourites have also been on display at the MAKS air show.

One of them, the KA-50 that also goes by the name of ‘Black Shark’, was the world's first single-seat attack helicopter.

“It’s simple, with all its computerised systems it’s simple. If you can handle a helicopter, it would take you a very short time to start flying the Black Shark. And if you can’t, it would take you 40% less time than learning to operate just a helicopter,” said Sergey Papay, pilot.

And as the show is over, another activity is just getting started – the clean-up operation. Hundreds of thousands of visitors each day means piles and piles of rubbish. And this needs to be got rid of as quickly and effectively as possible. But the problems of litter, traffic jams and kilometer-long queues seem trivial to the people who’ve fought their way through the crowds to enjoy the experience of the air show.

MAKS 2007 is taking down the displays, packing up and says farewell to the air show for two years.