Article & Photos by Shaun Psaila
Held annually, the Malta International Airshow (maltairshow.com) might not be the biggest of aviation events but it has acquired quite the reputation in recent years as one of Europe’s most interesting amongst aviation enthusiasts worldwide. Reason being that Malta’s geographical location and the hard work the Malta Aviation Society puts into the airshow, has always attracted an array of exotic aircraft from different countries and once again the results weren’t disappointing!
The 23rd edition of the Malta International Airshow organized by the Malta Aviation Society was held across the weekend of 26th - 27th September 2015. The show attracted around 45 aircraft from 13 different nations and over 15,000 spectators flocked to visit what is considered to be one of the largest outdoor events held in Malta.
This year, participants started to arrive on Thursday 24th with the first arrivals being two RAF C-17 support aircraft bringing the Royal Navy Black Cats Wildcat Helicopters, a first for Malta. For the second year running, the Egyptian Air Force participated by sending a C-130H-30 Hercules and NAMC/PAC K-8 Karakorum which are always a pleasure to see due to the fact that they are so rare to see out of their country. The static line up also featured a number of transport and maritime surveillance aircraft which consisted of a NATO E-3A AWACS, Romanian Air Force C-27J Spartan, Polish Navy AN-28TD Bryza, Polish Air Force C-295, Belgian C-130H, USAF C-130J-30 Super Hercules, US Navy P-3C Orion and also a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140 Aurora after an absence of 17 years. The Swiss PC-7 Team and Belgian F-16 Solo returned to grace the Maltese Skies, so did the Polish Orlik Aerobatic Team and Italian AW-149 for the first time in Malta. The home team also performed an eye catching display performing formation flypasts, cross overs and breaking formations with their very own Armed Forces of Malta King Air B200 and AW-139.
But without a doubt, the highlights and stars of the show where the two Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000s on static display from Tanagra AFB and the T-6Α "Daedalus" Demo Team on flying display from Kalamata. This was the second time the Hellenic Air Force took part, after having participated in the 2005 edition with an F-4 Phantom hence this is the first time Hellenic Mirage 2000s and T-6As participated at the Malta International Airshow. Both pairs arrived on Friday 25th with the Mirage 2000s performing a missed approach upon arrival and the T-6 also performing a practice display in the afternoon. The friendly crew and pilots of the Daedalus Demo Team allowed some people to have a seat in their aircraft and were also selling merchandise such as patches and embroidered key rings. The team proudly represented their country and 10 years of service by performing a fantastic display on both Saturday and Sunday. This was the first time the Daedalus Demo Team participated in a show abroad and they were all very excited to be here in Malta.
Besides the aircraft, as usual the airshow was organised perfectly with official parking areas offered within the airfield itself, a large food stall with reasonable prices and restroom facilities were all available to the general public across the airfield. The Official Airshow Merchandise stalls were constantly selling most of their merchandise such as caps and shirts throughout both days and the Souvenir Program was selling out pretty fast at the price of €3. The gates were open from 10.00 am to 5.30pm on both days with the Armed Forces of Malta Alouette III kicking off the air display with a flag salute at around 13:30pm.
All in all, the show had a fantastic line up of exotic military aircraft and an extremely friendly atmosphere which was certainly very relaxed, with most of the aircrew present to give the visiting public tours of the aircraft and selling squadron memorabilia. On behalf of the Malta Aviation Society I would like to thank the Hellenic Air Force for again participating at the Malta International Airshow and we hope to have you here again in the near future!