Organised for the first time in 2003, the Al Ain airshow is for me the only "real" airshow in the UAE as we know them in Europe and the US. Initially the show was yearly, but it seems that after 2011, it is on a two year cycle...
Being in the middle of the desert, the background for the show is great with the sun being in the back for all of the afternoon. Overall a spectacular setting and great for airshow photography!
Typically the show brings in airshow acts from all over the world, mainly from the US and Europe. This year, the format of the 3 day event held from December 17th till the 19th, changed somewhat.
The organisers made it into a competition of airshow acts where a specialised jury and the public (through online voting), chooses their favourite display. In three competition rounds spread over the three days, points were given for Power, Grace, National pride and WOW factor. Quite a neat idea and something different from your standard airshow! Hopefully the same will continue over the coming years...
Some of the teams presenting at Al Ain were:
GliderFX display team from the UK,
Polish aerobatic champion Artur Keilah flying his SBach S41,
UAE Airforce Desert Falcon F-16E,
Saudi Hawks, for the first time flying a total of seven Hawks,
The Bronco demo team, who flew their OV-10B in, all the way from my home airport in Kortrijk-Wevelgem, Belgium,
UAE based Al Fursan jet team, who won the "Grand Prize" at Al Ain,
Richard Goodwin from the UK, flying his highly modified Pitts S2S biplane,
Bravo 3 Repsol team from Spain flying a pair of Sukhoi's,
The Misty Blues, an all female Skydiving team from the US,
Breitling Wingwalkers flying two Stearmans with two girls on the wings,
On the grounds pretty much all of the UAE Air Force types were displayed on static, with lots of activities for young and old.
For those of you wondering, Al Ain is only an easy 1hr 15' drive from both Dubai and the Abu Dhabi airports.
Even though, they had me wait for over two hours for my "press credentials" batch, it is definitively a show I'll attend again whenever it comes back!
Meanwhile, keep the Aviation spirit flying, UAE!