Iran isn’t the first place you think of when looking to attend an airshow, but the bi-annual event at Kish was something that Paul Filmer thought was worth checking out. He reports for GAR on a most unusual event.
Kish is a small island in the south of the country and is in a unique, visa free zone for ease of travel from the rest of the Middle East, but Iran is such an interesting country to visit that I started my journey in Tehran after going through the visa formalities, for my second trip to this interesting country. In the past, military participation has mostly comprised of static items, but this year the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) went full-tilt with multiple aircraft flying.
According to local sources this was perhaps the first time in 18 years that the IRIAF have actually displayed to the public outside of fly pasts. The show was only open from 14:00 to 16:30 with flying starting at 14:30. This is useful as the show is backlit all day, and the later it gets, the more opportunities you have to snatch a few shots. There were three MiG-29s parked on the ramp and two started up and taxied to the end of the runway. Only one took off, the second presumably being a spare. The flying MiG-29B was joined by an F-14AM Tomcat which flew in from another base. They proceeded to fly a tactical display as a pair around the airfield, which included flares being popped by both aircraft.
The F-14AM was in the old sand camo scheme, and is a rare beast as this is the last airframe now to carry this livery. As well as being backlit, the day I attended suffered from very bad haze to add to the frustration for shooting, with sand in the air.
The MiG-29B landed and taxed in with chute deployed and the F-14AM departed to the airfield from where it had presumably departed earlier in the day.
After that we were treated to a fly past of a Boeing 707-300C tanker and three F-4Es in formation. Not so close to be a simulated refueling display, but close enough to see the point they were getting across.
The Russian Knights were in attendance and did their usual flowing display with their four Su-27 aircraft, then three, two and one until they were all back on the ground.
Later a Mi-171 and a PZL M-18B Dromader displayed firefighting simulations. Both did a single water drop, unfortunately the M-18 was quite low and obscured for us by the Russian Air Force Il-76.
A pair of HESA Saeqeh aircraft were parked but didn’t display, with a single-seat Saeqeh (F-5E) and twin-seat Saeqeh-2 (F-5F) versions being represented. It was interesting to note that they wore different versions of a sand camo scheme.
The Baltic Bees with their L-39Cs closed the show. It was a long display and the air became hazy again, but I was too busy trying to shoot the general aviation static with people in the way to worry about taking photos of the Baltic Bees.
There was also a small static display of mostly light aircraft available for the public to inspect, the most interesting being a Beech 350 from Air Control Flight Calibration Services based in Kazakhstan. As you can see there were no barriers, so photography was a little challenging while waiting for the “selfie” crowd to disperse each time.
It was an interesting day although the lighting was generally horrible, but all the same, to see these aircraft fly in the flesh and have no issues with photography was great.