Dubai Airshow 2009
This years Dubai Airshow was another quality show, with the usual good turn-out of enthusiasts, who often seemed to out-number the business visitors at times outside, at what is supposedly as trade-only show! Making the most of one of the last shows at DXB, four days were spent here this year, from Monday 16th to Thursday 19th. As usual, at the end of each day, it was usualy possible to 'hang around' after closing, with some 'hardcore' photographers walking around the static long after dark, before being thrown out! How many airshows could you do that at?!
Among the highlights, the undoubted star of the show, although flying only, was a very rare overseas visit by the USAF F-22A Raptor, which was in the UAE as part of a six-aircraft, one month deployment from Langley AFB to Al Dhafra Airbase, taking part in Exercise Iron Falcon. The Air Warfare Centre at Al Dhafra was also hosting a deployment of RAF Typhoons and French AF Rafale' among others, for an Advanced Tactical Leadership Course, which must rate as one of the most interesting 'get togethers' between these types to date. Speculation about the UAE's plans for a 'fifth generation fighter' for their Airforce added to the conspirary theories about the real reason for the presence of some of these types! Although a great coup for the airshow, only a single Raptor visited the show for a practice display on the opening day, Sunday 15th (the VIP/Royal day), but was then absent until the final day of the show, Thursday 19th, when another fantastic display was performed (and almost as good as the 'old' F-15E!). This year also saw other 'remotely-based' aircraft taking part in the airshow, with an RAF Typhoon FGR4 flying on most days from the Al Dhafra detachment, along with the Frecce Tricolori MB-339A(MLU)'s and PdF Alpha Jet E' teams, which were daily flying-only visitors to the show. Also, a bonus in the flying display on the 18th, was Emirates B777-300ER A6-ECW, which performed a few fly-by's after arriving on its delivery flight from Seattle as EK777.
Highlights of the static display this year included a personal star for myself, a rare airshow appearance outside the States of an E-8C J-Stars, with 95-0121 of the 116ACW at Robins AFB. These are detached in the Middle East at Al Udeid, Qatar, and after the show, flew home direct to Robins on the 20th (with AR support from tankers en route). Other interesting Boeings present, and a nice change from the usual BBJ's, were a couple of rare VIP B737's... the Canadian B737-500 and the B737-200 of Aero Toy Store, fitted with hush-kits and Pininfarina-designed interior. Another highlight, and big suprise, was the presence of the first RAAF Wedgetail (which followed the appearance of the Turkish Wedgetail at the last show). The first of six on order, to be based at Amberley with 2Sq, it was formally delivered on the 24th, after a three year delay (first flying on 15/11/02)! Among the other 'big stuff' at the show, was a welcome Maximus IL-76, while among the many executive aircraft present, was the first sight of the impressive Lineage 1000, with the nice Greek and tasty little Indian adding some more flavour to the show.