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Air show cleared for takeoff as pilots sharpen their skills

posted on 27/01/2010: 1823 views



Aerobatics experts and their flying machines have flocked Al Ain airport from 15 countries to stage their daring manoeuvres at the air show, opening on Wednesday.

Some of the participants conducted rehearsals on Tuesday over the show venue to acclimatise and sharpen their skills before the show kicks off. Brigadier Staff Pilot Abdullah Saeed Al Shamsi said all safety arrangements are in place.

The four-day event will open today at Al Ain International Airport, in which pilots and aerobatics teams around the world will be taking part. The show has been organised jointly by Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) and the UAE Air Force and Air Defence.

Speaking at a joint press conference on Tuesday, Brigadier Al Shamsi, Faisal Al Sheikh, manager of the Major Events Division at the ADTA, Lieutenant Colonel Rashid Bu Allai from Royal Bahrain Air Force, and Colonel Ahmad Al Shehi from Al Ain Police praised the participating teams.

Al Sheikh said 23 international teams have been taking part in the air show, bringing some 45 aircraft. The show also includes a re-formatted Aero GP and an enhanced spectator village.

Year of firsts

"This promises to be a year of firsts for the aerobatics show, as we present new aircraft, teams, formats, amenities, activities and hopefully even a new world record, to thrill crowds and showcase our historic Oasis City to the world," said Al Sheikh.

The Al Ain Aerobatics Show is the world's only aerobatics spectacle that combines military and civil aircraft, stunt displays and competitions.

This year, the Aero GP will introduce musically enhanced aerobatics to its three-part competition, where six pilots compete across multi-plain air racing, air combat, and the new scored aerobatics discipline.

The spectators will also witness the South African Goodyear Eagles Aerobatics team's attempt to complete a never-before-seen triple synchronised inverted parachute drop whilst three aircraft perform a formation loop. "We are expecting more than 110,000 spectators this year," he said. The show has been a huge success since its inception in 2004, he added.

Royal Bahrain Air Force will also make its international debut this year at the show with two F16s demonstrating daily. Bu Allai said: "Our participation at the show demonstrates the unity between the Kingdom of Bahrain and the UAE." Crowd favourites, the Saudi Hawks from the Royal Saudi Air force aerobatics team, will also perform a new tight-formation flying routine.

Al Fursan not to perform this year

Al Ain: Spectators will not be able to see the much-awaited UAE Aerobatics Team Al Fursan (The Knights) at the Al Ain Air Show this year, according a senior official.

The team was recently unveiled at a graduation ceremony at Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Air College in Al Ain. "Our team will not participate this year," said Brigadier Staff Pilot Abdullah Saeed Al Shamsi, on Tuesday.

Al Fursan currently comprises six MB339A trainers and aims to raise the UAE flag and show the proficiency of the air force. The team leader is Lieutenant Colonel Abdullah Al Amimi, who says the team needs to be trained for eight more months before being fully able to perform aerobatic displays.

Aero GP: Competing pilots

- Andy Bickmore (Great Britain)

- Smokey Young (US)

- Nigel Hopking (South Africa)

- Gerald Cooper (Great Britain)

- Castor Fantaba (Spain)

- Zoltan Veres (Hungary) – Gulf News

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