It had been 5 years since RSAF opened their bases to the public in the form of an Open House. The RSAF 2016 open house is on this weekend at Paya Lebar Air Base and is also one of the few chances to see Paya Lebar Air Base before its closure and transition to Changi and Tengah Airbases by 2030. It is also one of the rare chances you can set foot in the sensitive military installation typically closed to the public. The event is opened to the public from Saturday 21st to 2nd Sunday May, 9:00am to 6:00pm. Admission is free.
Getting there involves 4 ways of transport. The event-recommended official shuttle bus service departing from Eunos Bus Interchange and Kovan MRT stations, LTA Taxis (non-uber), and public buses (SBS service 90). However, despite both Eunos and Kovan shuttle bus services departing at capacity in near 1-minute intervals, typical waiting times are still a lengthy 60+ mins. I will recommend you to take a taxi there (stops you right in front of the event where the shuttle bus stops too).
Public parking will not be available at the airbase and airport road in front of the airbase is closed off to private traffic. If you are driving you should park around the Taiseng MRT industrial area (where parking is cheaper) and take Bus 90 (2-3 stops) right to the venue itself. If you are taking an Uber, you will have to alight at the bus stop right before KPE tunnel entrance (the moment you see the airbase before the Airforce museum). Entry is a short 10 min walk via a plane taxiway after clearing security, bringing you to the main runway where the events are adjacent to. This beats waiting over an hour for the shuttle buses at the MRT stations.
Things to do
There are several indoor and outdoor exhibits to see at the open house, with the air-conditioned exhibition area and static displays reminiscent of the RSAF showcase previously at the 2014 Singapore airshow with a few nice extras.
Aerials Displays and performances
Performance highlights will include twice-daily 30-minute aerial display and the Red lions parachute team jump, which the RSAF promises action-packed demonstration, at the event Grandstand venue. As the air displays happens directly above the airbase, you can watch it from anywhere at Outdoor static display area. The dedicated grandstand area is the landing spot for the Red Lions parachute team jump and is a good place to be at that event. There are also minor performances such as commercial plane fly past by the local flying clubs, K-9 handler demonstrations and SAF Music and dance company.
You will get to see the F16 and F15 taxing to the runway for take off where they will form up to do several fly-pasts and aerobatic manoeuvres over the airbase, with Apache and Chinook helicopters complementing the aerial displays with “Close Air Support” operations and Chinook “Under-Slung” operations. Other exciting demonstrations include fighter aircraft arming operations by the RSAF weapon load crew and the K-9 handler showcase where handlers show how attack dogs operate together with sniffing out for contraband items.
- Aerial display- Saturday: 10:30am and 2:30pm. Sunday: 11:30am and 4:30pm.
- Red Lions parachute team jump- Saturday: 11.15 and 5.15pm. Sunday: 12.15pm and 5.15pm.
- K9 demonstration- Saturday: 9.30am and 1.30pm. Sunday: 9.30am and 2.30pm.
- Aircraft arming demonstration- Saturday: 11am, 12pm and 3.30pm. Sunday: 10.30am, 1pm 3.30pm
Over 20 of RSAF’s latest aircraft and weapon systems are out on display at the outdoor static display area. This includes the F-15SG and F-16D+ fighter aircraft (including the Black Knight F-16C fighter jet in red and white) and helicopters such as the Chinook, Apache and Seahawk. The Hermes 450 UAV and G550 reconnaissance aircraft are also on out on the tarmac.
The indoor display is at the main exhibition hall suited inside an aircraft hangar comprising of 3 Zones, with the first focused on the History and Transformation of the RSAF, followed by the RSAF full Spectrum and capabilities of the 3rd Generation RSAF. The final third zone 3 focuses on the RSAF contributions and the commitment to defence, professionalism and accomplishments of the airmen and women of the RSAF. Of course no air force event is complete without flight and air defence, simulators, much a delight with children there with several hand-on try-out areas manned by event staff and military demo personnel too.
There are plenty of Carnival stores within the event for your food needs, not necessitating a need to leave the venue for food, though they do not come in cheap. You find stores selling food along the static outdoor areas and a dedicated air-conditioned dining hall area for sit-down meals (though the air quality inside is really bad). There are some merchandise stores selling aerospace-themed merchandise with one humorously peddling their backlog stocks from the 2016 Singapore Airshow at bargains. There is also a sheltered carnival area with several fairground stores offering free games where you can have a go at winning some small prizes, as well as a drone flying area and booths giving out limited edition RSAF Figurines.
Overall the event is good for an afternoon. You can easily go through all the exhibits under 3 hours, with time to spare for photographs and catching the aerial displays throughout the day. The event is expected to be a hit with children. If you are planning an afternoon there this weekend, just make sure to make provisions to get there before 1.30pm, where most of the activities will start upon your arrival.
View more photos of the RSAF Open House 2016 here.