The Polikarpov I-16 Rata is a rare bird. Only a dozen of originally more than 8500 produced aircraft exist, including seven that have been re-build for Sir Tim Wallis' Alpine Fighter Collection in the 1990s. Amongst them the Madrid-based I-16 “Mosca” in the hands of the Spanish Fundación de Infante de Orleans (FIO) is the only one to fly regularly. I was fortunate to go up in the air with it for an amazing photoflight.
Barely touching the earth’s surface a pair of helicopters follows the terrain on the approach to its target. The flight route has been selected in way to remain undiscovered up to the very last possible moment. Only shortly before their landing zone the machines gain height, just to come to a quick stop under the crunching sound of the landing skids on the top of a shipping container. Quickly the soldiers of the “Kommando Spezialkräfte” (KSK or Special Forces Command) get out of the helicopter cabin, the only visible sign of this action in the middle of night is the green glim of the soldiers night vision goggles that is reflected on their faces. Protected by the darkness the rest of the exercise is carried out in secrecy.
With thundering afterburners four F-35A Lightning II soar into the clear blue sky of the Negev desert. They are followed by another four F-15 "Baz" of the Israeli Air Force. The jets are the vanguard of the "Blue Force" and have to protect the territory of the "Falcon State". With a fight over water and other natural resources, it is threatened by the aggressive neighboring country "Nowhereland". This can become a realistic scenario in this part of the world and was certainly not chosen by chance as a theme for the high-value exercise "Blue Flag 2019" at Ovda Air Force Base in southern Israel.
"Air Legend" at the Melun-Villaroche airfield in the South of Paris is a new airshow establishing itself firmly on the European circuit. The second edition in 2019 focused on Cold War jets and succeeded with a well balanced mix of those Cold War warriors, warbirds and modern aviation.
This was another plane spotting trip to Taiwan. Even though it has a vivid aviation photography scene, it’s tropical climate and a military on high alert do not make it an easy country to pursue this hobby. With the aim to photograph some aircraft of the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) around the island and a visit to the airshow at Hualien, this planned tour promised some good results. In the end, however, things turned out completely different.
Wings over Houston 2018 was headlined by the US Navy Blue Angels display team. With a big concentration of Commemorative Air Force (CAF) warbirds all around the oil-rich state of Texas the line-up of WW II airplanes was also strong. The most impressive airshow act was the “Tora! Tora! Tora!” air power demonstration with plenty warbirds in the air, and pyrotechniques on ground.
Twice a year, around three-dozen Israeli Air Force (IAF) officers receive their wings. Of these, roughly half will go on to become fighter pilots or weapons system officers, a third will fly helicopters, while the rest are destined to join the transport fleet in different roles. The event is celebrated with a ceremony at Hatzerim Air Base, in the northern Negev, that brings the cadets’ three-year syllabus to a close. The graduation event for Flight Course 176 at the end of June additionally commemorated the 70th anniversary of both the IAF and the state of Israel. It also provided one of the first public appearances of the F-35A Adir after initial operational capability was declared for the fifth-generation fighter at the beginning of December 2017.
The COVID-19 outbreak affects us all. It affects and restricts our daily life, and along with that also our leisure time activities. It currently seems like like pulling the throttle from full power back to idle.
Things we once took for granted like travelling or going for a nice day of planespotting have been cast into doubt or, quite simply, stopped altogether. Plenty of airshows have already been cancelled, and for sure there will be more cancellations in the following weeks and months to come. Chances are high that 2020 might even become a year without any airshow if the spread of the Corona virus cannot be damped as quickly as possible. But of course there are currently more important things in life than admiring planes in the air and having a great day out.
There is more to life than aviation photography, those planes will fly again, but right now, please take care of your health and protect the others!
The Farnborough International Airshow rates amongst the world's biggest trade airshow. The 2018 edition was once again packed with massive airline orders and business behind the scenes. Exhibitors used the daily aerial display to show off the capabilities of their aircraft and helicopters. Once all the business were done, a airshow was organized for the entertainment of 'Joe Public' on the concluding week-end.
2019 saw the 19th edition of the Oldtimer Fliegertreffen Hahnweide. You may also call it a fly-in, a pilot meeting or a warbird airshow, and with around 400 participating aircraft it is arguably Germany’s biggest aviation event. It is an avgeek festival, and an aviation photographer’s challenge!
10.000ft above Belgium the howling sound of the Lockheed Martin’s F-16AM Fighting Falcon F100 jet engine could clearly be heard. No wonder, as the Demo Pilot for the Belgian Air Force, Sr. Cpt Darte, callsign „Vador“, knows how to place his jet only meters behind the open ramp of the C-130 Hercules photoship. Time to stop worrying about cold feet and frozen fingers: hit the shutter to get the shots!
Travelling to countries operating the MiG-29 is usually a safe bet to see this great looking jet from the Soviet-era in the air. This was also true for the Slovak International Air Fest (SIAF) at Sliac, Slovakia. But the SIAF airshow was also a clear sign that the Slovak Air Force is in the state of transition to Western equipment.