Sunday, 6 April 2014

Singapore Airshow 2014 - Day 1 - Aerial Display (Part 1)

Date        : 15 February 2014
Time        : 3.05 pm
Weather  : HOT, but its Aerobatics time.
Status      : Excited !!

WOOOHOOO !!!!!!!!!!!! The time is now. Everyone began moving to the "Center Stage", which is basically the BIG open HOT area in front of the Breitling Control tower by the sea. The announcer mentioned that the airshow was to start 5 minutes earlier due to slot availability. I guess when you are in the vicinity of such an active airspace like that of Changi, 5 minutes makes a lot of difference.

The first aircraft to greet the crowd was the C-17A Globemaster III, "Spirit of Kamehameha". HH 55153. This is a transport aircraft capable of carrying high loads and is able to perform short-field takeoffs and landings. This makes it suitable to be used in arenas where large airfields are not accessible.

 C-17 Entrance Fly-by

The C-17 came in low from the right, flying by half the center stage before making a sharp right bank away from the audience. It was possibly banking at 60 degrees for each turn. It made some turns and flew quite far out before aligning for the next move, the low-speed, low-level fly-by with gears down and flaps extended.

 C-17 Low-speed, low-level fly-by

Look at the massive wingspan with the flaps extended. No wonder it's a good short field performer. Landing at that speed, which is slower than a lot of aircraft (looked even slower than a normal landing airliner), will allow for it to require less runway length, coupled with its powerful reverse thrusters.

 Belly shot of the C-17

The shot above was taken while the aircraft was making its sharp turn, though it may seem like it was taken directly from below. This again demonstrates the maneuverability of the aircraft, even though it is a cargo aircraft.

Banking and lining up for the final display

 High angle climbout

Witness a BIG aircraft perform tight maneuvers? Checked

The last move was a steep climbout directly in front of the audience. This demonstrates the aircraft's engine power, able to push it upwards and forwards at almost 45 degrees (or so it seems from ground level). It then made a turn back to the airbase, making the airspace available for the next performer.

The next display was the T-50s from the RoKAF, or better known as the Royal Korean Air Force. They were the Black Eagles'. They sure did make a grand entrance, with a loud boom and coloured smoke trails. There were 8 aircraft flying the formation.

 Entering with style - Black Eagles

Filling the air with red, blue and white smoke definitely brightened up the area. They had someone from RoKAF which explained in detail about the squadron. Since it takes time for the aircraft to line up, the announcer filled these quiet times with information, along with the names of the formation that they were demonstrating. I shall do my very best to recall the names of these formation as I was truly enjoying the moment.

 Tango Formation

The first formation was the Tango formation ( T ). They were flying further out from the center stage as compare to the C-17 previously. The Tango formation then changed to a Spear formation as they approached center stage.

Spear Formation

They flew in such tight formations flawlessly, making it appear as a single moving body. The smoke trails were only activated when a display was imminent. This greatly assisted he public so that they knew when to start looking and when to get their cameras ready. While the aircraft may be flying under some cloud cover, we the audience were definitely under the hot sun.

 Diamond Formation (Front)

The next one was the Diamond formation, seen from the front and from the bottom. The brighter sections seen above are where there is no cloud cover. This allows for sunlight to shine through and light up the smoke trail of the T-50s.

 Diamond Formation (Bottom)

The formation is such that when viewed from most directions, be it the top, the bottom, front or back, you will see a diamond shape. The front section of the aerial display was mainly a group performance, whereby all the 8 aircraft are arranged to display a particular shape or style. Like the next formation, which was the Eagle(?) formation

 The Black Eagles presenting a formation which mimics the T-50 aircraft

Since the aircraft were relatively small, and difficult to spot with the absence of the smoke trails, the commentator constantly pointed out the direction of which the aircraft will enter, like "Entering Center Stage from you left".

 One final flyby before breaking into smaller groups

The team did a synchronised barrel roll right before performing a high angle climb. This was one of the last actions as an 8-aircraft team as they split into smaller groups for the next section of the aerial show.

 Climbing for the opening curtain

Through the viewfinder, I witnessed the eight jets climbing almost vertically to a point before looping and pointing back to the ground. One good thing about the performance was that it was accompanied with pop music and a cue to inform of an incoming move, something like "Ready..... NOW", or something to that effect.

Opening Curtain

This maneuver allowed for the 8 aircraft to split to their respective sub-groups of 4 and 2.One half would perform while the other gets into position for the coming display. Many flyby's at high speed and low speed were performed, with and without smoke. Since most of the time I was more focused on the show than on the camera, the shots seen here are one of those fewer ones at which my eyes were looking through the viewfinder.

Head on fly past

One of the first few moves after the split. A head on pass. This was done with precise accuracy. You could hear the oooohhss and the aaaahhhhs from the crowd.

To keep this post short, the next segment will be covered in the next post.

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