x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Parachutists aim for a world first in Al Ain

Event expected to draw big crowds with South African team to attempt 'triple synchronised inverted parachute drop' on each of the air show's four days.

Two Yak 52s, right, from the flying team Yakitalia perform a manoeuvre called mirroring while a third loops around them at Al Ain Aerobatic Show last year.
Two Yak 52s, right, from the flying team Yakitalia perform a manoeuvre called mirroring while a third loops around them at Al Ain Aerobatic Show last year.

AL AIN // A South African aerobatic team will attempt to complete a triple synchronised inverted parachute drop - the world's first - at the Al Ain Aerobatic Show beginning tomorrow. The Goodyear Eagles, one of 20 teams attending the event, plan to perform the three-man inverted drop each day of the four-day air show at Al Ain International Airport.

While three Pitts Special S2Bs aircraft are in a formation loop, a parachutist will drop out from each plane from the open canopies. Radio communication between pilots will be impossible because of the open canopies, so timing the jumps precisely will be a test for the parachutists. The air show will feature a mix of civil and military aerobatic aircraft, said Faisal al Sheikh, the head of the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority events division, providing "an intriguing snapshot of aviation down the ages".

The Adta expects large crowds for the event, which will feature dozens of planes and jet fighters and helicopters flying solo and in formation. "We fully expect the 2010 event to eclipse previous years' records in terms of size, aircraft on display and spectator numbers," Mr al Sheikh said. The South African parachute manoeuvre will take the air show "into the annals of international aerobatics history", he said. "It will be a thrilling episode for the - fans and spectators."

Teams from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the UK are among those scheduled to participate in the show. Teams from the UAE Air Force and Abu Dhabi Police are expected to perform as well. Making its first Middle East appearance is the Miss Demeanour, a vintage, British-built Hawker Hunter jet with eye-catching livery. "The standard Hawker Hunter was operated by many countries in the Gulf area," said Jonathan Whaley, the owner and pilot of the aircraft. "Although Miss Demeanour has been modified she is, if you like, bringing her family back to familiar territory."

Mr Whaley believes his plane will be a big hit with the crowd. "I will fly her with gusto and, I hope, demonstrate just how much I enjoy flying her in the hope that my level of enjoyment is matched by the audience," he said. Last year's spectator favourite, the Saudi Hawks, are back and scheduled to perform a new, tight-formation routine. Their BAE Hawker 65 trainer jets will fly a routine that retains the colourful drill that represents Saudi Arabia's national emblem, a palm tree and two swords. It is the only team in the world that draws its national emblem in such a manner.

In addition to the aerobatics, visitors to the show can expect four days of interactive activities, competitions and cuisine at the show's Spectator Village. A special aviation photography competition, judged by Mubadala Aerospace, will be open to students aged 13 to 19, and will offer cash prizes of up to Dh7,000 (US$1,900). ealghalib@thenational.ae