During the last week of September, a trio of Low Approach-members went to Malta for the annual airshow. This airshow is known to be a small, relaxed airshow, but with lots of quality. And this year wasn’t any different. The flying display was pretty short, but this was more than enough compensated by the static display which contained a lot of rare items that you don’t see very often in Europe. There were some real gems in the static display like the Egyptian Air Force K-8E and C-130H, Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000’s, a Romanian Air Force C-27J just to name a few. We went on base on Thursday and Friday to follow the arrivals and rehearsals. Both days were really enjoyable and there was an amazing atmosphere. Not a lot of people were attending the arrivals and rehearsals from inside the base so you could make some really nice pictures from the airplanes and helicopters when they arrived and even when they taxied to their spot on the platform.
In the weekend it was time for the official airshow. The doors opened at 10h00 but the flying part only started after 13h30. This gave us the opportunity to take a look at the static display and the shops that were present.
Another advantage for the late starting time of the flying display is that the sun is in a better position because before noon and in the early afternoon you’re having the sun in your face which otherwise resulted in backlight photos. Even though the flying display wasn’t that big, but just like the static part of the show, also this part contained some really nice things that we don’t see very often in the rest of Europe. To give some examples, the Hellenic Air Force sent their T-6A Texan II display to Malta, the Italian Air Force sent their AW-149 from RSV to the airshow as well as the AB-212 which is based at Malta. And off course the Maltese Armed Forces were also present, but for us foreigners it’s a really nice extra because you don’t see them elsewhere. But for the Maltese people it was obvious that the Belgian Air Force F-16AM was one, if not ‘the’, highlight(s) of the flying display with his brute power and sound of the afterburner.
After the show on Saturday you had the possibility to stay at the airfield, if you purchased the “Enthusiasts Weekend”-package, and photograph the participating aircraft during sunset.
This resulted in some really nice pictures in a special scenery. Also here there was a relaxed atmosphere because there weren’t a lot of people present, and the ones that were there were really polite. Everyone tried not to disturb other photographers by walking accidently in front of his/her camera.
On the departures day on Monday, we were again able to go on the field. Just like the arrivals and airshow days there was a really calm and friendly atmosphere even though it was quite busy on the platform with crews preparing the planes to leave, planes/helicopters that were taxiing to the runway,… you still could walk on the platform to make the picture you wanted. During the departures a large part of the participants made a really nice fly-by before heading back home.
So although it’s a small airshow which gives you quality over quantity, it is really a must do. The organization gives you a lot of possibilities to make the pictures that you want and the accessibility to the aircraft is really amazing, something that you can’t do easily at an airshow elsewhere in Europe.
Text: Tim Van den Boer
Photography: Tim Van den Boer, Andy Patzelt, Dirk Geuns