As those of you who’ve read my editorial in Issue 21 of Global Aviation Magazine will be aware, I spent the last few days of November and the first couple of days of December back out in Al Ain, photographing the 10th Al Ain Aerobatic Show on behalf of the organisers.
As you can probably imagine, the four full days of shooting generated rather a lot of content, so rather than pile it into one massive blog, I thought it’d be a better idea to break it down into bite-sized chunks.
In this one, I’ll focus on the images captured of the United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence’s display team, Al Fursan, “The Knights”.
Flying the Alenia Aermacchi MB-339NAT, Al Fursan debuted in January 2010. The team was formed from a group of instructor pilots based at Al Ain Air Base who later went on to undertake a dedicated training course under the tutelage of the Italian Air Force’s Frecce Tricolori – a team that also flies the MB-339 – at the Frecce’s Rivolto home base.
After returning to the UAE, Al Fursan relocated to Minhad Air Base, near Dubai, where they were joined by a number of ex-Frecce Tricolori pilots who act as mentors to the team’s now seven pilots – each pilot and aircraft representing the seven individual Emirates that comprise the UAE.
Having only witnessed the team depart from the 2012 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford, I was very much looking forward to seeing them perform back at Al Ain, where the Al Fursan story had begun.
It was, therefore, a tad disappointing to discover that, due to National Day commitments in Dubai, the team would only be performing on the first day of the show.
On the plus side, they were the only jet team to start up and taxi from in front of the crowded grandstand, so that was a bonus.
The parallels with the Frecce’s display routine are plain enough for all to see, and the execution – particularly for such a young team – I thought, was very impressive indeed.
In my next instalment, I’ll take a look at the UAEAF & AD’s Mirage 2000-9 solo.