Expect some mean aerial stunts at this annual event at the Garden City
Leaving trails across the sky at the end of the month will be the Al Ain Aerobatic Show. Not only is the event a superb day out, it’s an extra-special way to celebrate the National Day weekend.
With the Formula One now a distant memory, Abu Dhabi is looking for the next vehicular-themed event to fill the void. And so, the region is trading in its wheels for wings, as the Al Ain Aerobatic Show (AAAS) gets ready to ignite flying fever from November 30- December 2, and attract thousands of people in the process. The three days will be full of high-flying events and feats, and with this year’s motto ‘Live Every Second’, the extravaganza will wow the wannabe pilot in you.
A seven-hour programme awaits you Saturday, Sunday and Monday, featuring both military and civil aircraft, allowing you to feast your eyes on an assortment of aeroplanes, helicopters, and gliders. There’ll be wingwalkers too, facing the perils of a high-altitude amble, and to top it all off, the world-famous Red Arrows will be streaking across the Al Ain sky with their unforgettable routines.
This year’s AAAS will be a particularly special one, as the event will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. The original show in 2003 was the first time an aerobatic display of this nature was put on in the Arabian Gulf, and enjoyed 50,000 visitors; later in 2006, there were multiple world records set during the show when the World Free Fly Team made what was at the time the largest free-flying formation in the world, with a whopping 70 participants.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the show saw a huge improvement in its number of visitors – 130,000, to be sure. And what will the 2013 edition bring? With the event taking place over the National Day weekend, there’s nothing to say it won’t be the best Al Ain Aerobatic Show yet.
Tickets to the show are Dhs40 per day, or Dhs20 for those under the age of 12. But to make the most of your experience, there is the Fly Pass for Dhs125; not only does it allow you two entry tickets to the air show, but also two entry tickets for the Al Ain Zoo and for Wadi Adventures (plus 30 percent off the Al Ain Equestrian, Shooting and Golf Club). For info and to buy tickets, visit www.alainaerobaticshow.com
The stars of the show
The world’s only aerobatic formation wingwalking team on their daring mid-air stunts: ‘We perform a very specific highly rehearsed flying sequence. However, before each display we have an in-depth briefing together to discuss the crowd line, timings and weather factors. We are unable to talk to the pilots during the show so we communicate with them using certain hand signals. The pilots communicate with each other using radio communications but as wingwalkers, we have to communicate using hand signals and subtle head movements.’
Heritage Aviation’s Jonathon Whaley on flying the historic Hawker Hunter aeroplane: ‘I enjoy flying her, showing her elegant shape, the contrast between graceful manoeuvres and sheer power. Given the airspace, our final manoeuvre is to go vertical from 30 feet until we are just a speck in the sky, all in a few seconds. If I could keep going to outer space, I would.’
The Matadors and their love of the Al Ain Aerobatic Show: ‘What we love to do in our display is all the things that other teams don’t do! We hope to be able to change our show slightly each day. We love the Al Ain Aerobatic Show; we visited twice about nine or ten years ago and enjoyed it tremendously. The scenery as the sun sinks is something we remember. And the lovely weather!’