Monday 20 July 2015

LIMA 2015 Part 04 (Day 1 of Exhibition) - Airshow

Just before the airshow began (which will take about 2.5 hours), we managed to get a sneak peak into a Falcon 7X Business Jet on display. Had to wait for a short while as they only allowed a few people in at a time. Of course, those inside would want to continue being inside as like some other aircraft on display, this one had an air conditioning unit connected to the baggage section of the jet, which cooled the entire cabin.

Spacious Cabin of the Falcon (N163FJ) Larger

Imagine being able to live in such luxury. Looks like the jet can seat approximately 8 people (maybe more) in great comfort. Seats have been tested and verified comfy. The cockpit boasts LCD and sidestick controllers. The visor gives the idea of how sunny and hot the place was.

Cockpit (and head) shot of the aircraft.

Just as I was waiting for a chance to have a seat in the cockpit, someone on the PA mentioned "... airshow will start in a moment". This was 30 minutes earlier than the scheduled time of 12:30pm. So we quickly rushed towards the runway, under the tail of one of the aircraft for shade, and waited for the airshow to start. By this time, all of us were quite dehydrated due to the scorching heat. Just take note that a bottle of 1.5L of water will cost you RM7 (if not more). Nothing we can do about, so do take note if you are going for the 2017 one.

RMAF Su-30MKM (M52-16)

First up was a solo performance by the RMAF's Mig replacement, the Su-30MKM. It is one LARGE aircraft and a loud one too. Upon takeoff, it did a sharp left turn and increased altitude for even more displays.


Snapping photos at 12:00 pm from the display area will give you frame filling shots (this was taken using a crop sensor body, 1.6x, at focal lengths of 200 mm to 300 mm depending on where the jet is), BUT, lighting will be incredibly horrible and would require lots of post processing.

Better to grab shots from an observation point on the opposite side. That would give you less backlighting, but you would need a lens with long focal lengths.

Cobra Manoeuvre (for your information, 300 mm)

Lots of high altitude displays, which makes it really hard to spot with the sun directly at you. A pic below shows just how big (small) it can be after you snap the photo.

Shutter speed of 1/500 at 300mm at F8.0

Parachutes and speedbrakes deployed

The performance took about 9 minutes. 

A sneak peak of what's coming up next.

Zivko Edge 540 (N540WA)

The solo aerobatic prop departing with a trail. The trail allows viewers to see the flight path of this one, seeing that it is quite small and white, which does not provide that much contrast in the hot Langkawi weather.

A lot of maneuvres were done, twisting and turning, performing low level fly past and many more. Some pics of the display.

To end his performance, the pilot did a daring turn and descend, very close to the ground. Inverting and aligning with the runway just before touchdown.

An interesting performance I must say. Must've trained a long time. Though he is the pilot for the Red Bull championship, so it should be a norm for him now.

"Turnaround" time for each performance was short. While the Edge 540 was out on the display run, the Al-Fursan aerobatics team had already begin warming up their aircraft for performance. The performing team for this LIMA used 7 Aermacchi MB339 NAT aircraft for the performance. You can see the distinctive red, green, blue and white smoke emitted from the 7 aircraft, which represents the colour of the UAE Flag.

Al Fursan Team Preparing for takeoff

With some comments uttered by the commentator (not very clear), they were off. Rolling on the runway, and rotating in great synchronicity.

Taking off, 5 at a time

A note to future LIMA visitors, from where we were (underneath the shade of the horizontal stabilizer of the P-8 Poseidon), you will not be able to hear the commentators clearly. Sound system is not powerful enough to project the voice that far. If you are just there for the shots, then it is fine. Otherwise, you might want to get nearer to the main stage (near the Rafales from the previous post).

Being a larger group, they have more flexibility to fly in more formations and more styles. It was interesting to see them fly with such great precision. When the smoke trails are enabled.......

Colours of the UAE

In most aerial displays involving lots of aircraft such as this one, they usually start off with the group display, flying in various formations like the delta or the arrow formation. This will usually take about half the period of their display. For the other half of the display, the group splits up to two or even three smaller groups. For some moves, only a single unit breaks from the main group. Pics as below.

While they may appear to be flying in unison, these 7 aircraft are rarely flying at the same altitude. In the T formation above, the front 5 aircraft are several feet above the trailing two aircraft. The trailing aircraft themselves are also separated by several feet in terms of altitude. Flying like this however gives the impression that they are in a straight line. One possible reason is to provide better visuals for maneuvering the aircraft, and the other is to avoid possible wake turbulence caused by the aircraft in front, however insignificant they may be.

The team made a big loop right before splitting up to two groups.

One thing that I've noticed is that there are lots of photographers with incredibly long lens there. But what's more interesting is that for quite a number of them, their lens only goes up to the direction of the aircraft when the aircraft are nosediving towards the ground. I wonder if they are preparing to snap the event of the aircraft crashing. Don't really see them shooting the formation at other periods (Hmm.......)

One of the "trick moves" as I would like to call it is to pilot one aircraft upside down, while the other spirals around it.

Inverted Helix

We have always been reminded not to drink and drive. The pic below shows what happens when one drinks and fly.

Drunken Flying

It was not long before the individual aircraft joined the main group once again to wow the spectators and to give them a few more final displays before they end their show.

One last pass and the team was good to execute their final display before landing.

So with the spiralling helix display, the Al-Fursan team hands the airspace over to China's August 1st Aerobatic Team.

Taking off in great synchronisation. The team employ's a 6-ship formation for the entire display, one two of them a tandem seat unit, the J-10SY. The single seat variant is known as the J-10AY.

Pulling up for a vertical climb

Like many of the aerobatic teams that send a large group for display, this team starts with the group demonstrations first.

The J-10 employs a delta-wing configuration with canards, similar to the Rafales and the Eurofighter models. The distinctive shape can be seen in the picture above. Note that the refuelling probe stays out the entire time.

Smoke On

Unlike the Al-Fursan team that use strong coloured smoke, the August 1st team uses a milder mix for their smoke, a purple, pink and an orangy-beige smoke colour. The team then breaks formation for other displays.

Diamond Formation

Smoke dispenser mounted on pylons

Only 5 made the beautiful formation break above as the 6th ship was getting ready for a low pass. This one was with the lady pilot. This shows the proximity to the ground. You can see the Al-Fursan Team and our Krisakti team in the foreground.

Flying low for the lady pilot to wave to us

Or rather for us to wave to her

As soon as the team started with their performance, it ended. The J-10 uses parachutes to aid the braking process on the runway. 

Back after the display, taxiing to parking bay Larger

Always with the Red vs. Blue games, after the blue J-10s have landed, the Red F-16s went up. They are the RSAF's Black Knights. Unlike the Singapore Airshow which featured a 6-ship formation, only 2 were featured in LIMA, with a third on standby.

But 2 doesn't mean anything less. Sure there wasn't any "Rainfall" or "Seashell", but they were equally daring and spectacular, displaying most of what was shown during the Singapore Airshow, albeit with only two aircraft.

High-Speed head on pass

Knife Edge with the top facing us

Another with the bottom to us

They used the same music track as they did in Singapore Airshow 2014, this was the "Low & Slow" maneuver, where two jets fly in formation at a certain angle, but at very low speeds before engaging in full afterburner. Song is still fresh, "Roar" by Katy Perry.

Low & Slow

Then we had inverted flights, one bottom to bottom, and the other top to top.

Was hoping that they would end with flares, like they did in the Singapore Airshow, but sadly, no such display.

Time to start a new post.