Every two years, aerospace leaders and aficionados converge for the Paris Air Show, the world’s grandest aircraft exhibition. As an avid aviation enthusiast, attending this event had long been on my wish list. Last summer, I finally had the opportunity to discover the aerial marvels of Le Bourget firsthand.

Upon entering the airfield, I was overwhelmed with delight at the sight of so many renowned aircraft assembled in one place. There were behemoth Airbus A380s, the “monarch of the skies” Boeing 747, and the revolutionary new Boeing 787 Dreamliner with its cabin brimming with exotic plants to demonstrate the efficacy of its air filtration system.

In the static aircraft display arena, gleaming fighters, private jets and helicopters were poised under the open sky. I was able to explore many of these aircraft inside and out, from the compact cockpit of a Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet to the sumptuous leather interior of a Gulfstream G650ER private jet, complete with a queen bed and marble lavatory.

The highlight of the show was the spectacular aerial displays by various aerobatic teams. Pulse-pounding stunts encompassed vertical climbs, barrel rolls, loops and free falls from the Red Arrows, USAF Thunderbirds and Patrouille de France. The thundering roar of the jets’ engines and trails of colored smoke across the firmament added extra drama to the daring aerial ballets unfolding before my eyes.

In the commercial aircraft halls, the latest offerings from major manufacturers were on display, including Bombardier’s new fuel efficient CSeries jet and China’s first domestically built airliner, the Comac C919. Virtual reality demonstrations provided an immersive glimpse at conceptual future aircraft designs, aglow with futuristic luxury and technology.

Attending the Paris Air Show was a dream realized for this starry-eyed plane spotter. A chance to witness storied aircraft up close, watch world-class aerial displays and experience the cutting edge of aerospace innovation – there is nothing quite like this unparalleled aircraft exhibition and spectacle of flight. My mind filled with childhood wonder, I left Le Bourget vowing not to miss another show.