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Timeline: The Paris Air Show

Throughout the 20th century and up to the present day, the Paris Air Show has entertained millions.
Throughout the 20th century and up to the present day, the Paris Air Show has entertained millions.

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(CNN) -- When the gates of the Paris Air Show open for the 45th time, exhibitors and organizers will be crossing their fingers that it will be bigger and better than the last.

Every other year Le Bourget airfield on the outskirts of Paris is home to one of the world's premier showcases for aerospace products, an event that began over 90 years ago.

The show, which rotates with Britain's Farnborough Air Show, debuts new aircraft and is often the place where aviation records are smashed.

Nowadays business drives the show. Manufacturers and subcontractors of military and commercial aircraft, launch vehicles, satellites and aviation equipment all attend.

This year more than 1,800 exhibitors from around the world will show their wares and check out their competitors.

Not even calls to boycott the show from disgruntled U.S. politicians will convince defense or aerospace companies to give up their chance of meeting potential customers.

At the 2001 show companies struck $63 billion in deals and strutted their stuff for more than half a million visitors, according to the show's Web site.

1909: On September 25, the first show officially dedicated to aviation opens at the Grand Palais attracting several hundred exhibitors with early examples of airplanes, engines and balloons. It is primarily dedicated to French aviation enthusiasts.

By 1924 foreign exhibitors begin to appear. The show is interrupted by World War II but reappears soon after. In 1949 the flying demonstrations, a quintessential part of the show, are staged at Orly Airport.

1953: The show relocates from the Grand Palais to Le Bourget.

1957: The former Soviet Union makes its first appearance, as does Boeing, arriving with the B-47 -- the first swept-wing jet bomber.

1960: By the beginning of the decade the event becomes more international in its reach.

1969: Prototypes of the Concorde, the world's first supersonic commercial transport and the Boeing 747, the world's first jumbo passenger aircraft, appear.

1971: The supersonic prototype Tupolev-144 airliner, the Soviet answer to the Anglo-French Concorde, makes its first appearance in the West. It is dubbed the "Concordsky."

1973: On June 3 a Tupolev Tu-144 explodes in mid-air during a demonstration at the airfield, killing its six crew and nine people on the ground.

1987: Airbus introduce the new A320, along with the Rafale fighter. China makes its first appearance as an exhibitor.

1993: An Airbus 340 departs from the show to beat the world's record for distance flying from Le Bourget to Auckland, New Zealand.

1999: On June 12, a Russian Sukhoi SU-30MK fighter, an updated version of the SU-27 crashes about one kilometer (about half a mile) from spectators. It falls from the sky when the combat jet tries to gain altitude during a loop. Both pilots eject from the plane unhurt.

2001: The world's largest aircraft, an Antonov Airlines An-225, features at the show. The giant six-engine aircraft, which carries 250 tonnes of cargo, is originally designed to carry a Soviet space shuttle.


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