Sunday, February 7, 2010

Singapore Air Show 2010

The Singapore Air Show 2010 was held at the purpose-built Changi Exhibition Centre from 2nd – 7th February 2010. The first 4 days are solely for trade visitors, but on the weekend of the 6th and 7th, the show is opened up to the public.

As a former Air Force kid (my dad was in the Royal Air Force), I’ve seen my share of military flying hardware. I’ve sat in the cockpit of a Canadian Stealth Bomber, I’ve seen countless aerobatic displays. They’re all still awesome, though. There’s something about all that military kit lying around that brings out the 10 year old in me.

Sadly, I don’t have the patience to queue for over half an hour to have a 10 second sit in the cockpit of a RSAF AH-64 Apache, but the looks on the faces of some of the kids reminded me of how I felt when I’d done it all those years ago.

This was my first visit to the Changi Exhibition Centre. It’s off-limits to the public for almost the entire year, as it’s considered to be military land (so I was reliably informed by my Taxi driver…). For many of the visitors, this was their (and my) first view of the newly built conference and exhibition space.

National Flags

Inside the exhibition halls, there were a massive range of aviation hardware vendors. Boeing was incredibly popular, I thought, until I saw them giving out Apache and F-16 patches and badges amongst their other stuff. They became markedly less popular when they ran out. They had these stunning looking simulators on their stand, but I reckon they were only for the corporate guests of the previous days, as they were all fenced off. They looked like a lot of fun, though, it’s just a shame that none of us had a multi-billion dollar defence budget in our pockets, or we’d probably have been allowed to play on them:

Boeing Simulator

Bell Helicopter’s stand was popular too, but mainly as a backdrop for photos in the nicely air-conditioned halls…

Bell Helicopter

There was a cosplay group roaming the halls too. I caught sight of a couple of Vulcans, several Borg, a Ferengi, and a curiously out-of-place stormtrooper (given the Star Trek tone of the rest of the cosplayers)":

The Ferengi Leaving the AirShow   Random Stormtrooper at Singapore Airshow 2010

There were also other companies exhibiting their defence-related wares, Textron Missile systems, for example, and this plane that I still haven’t been able to identify… if you can help, please comment either here or on the picture page at flickr.

Textron Missile System   Plane...

Outside, there were several static displays. The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) were incredibly popular, with very long queues to sit in either an F-16 or an AH-64 Apache:

RSAF F-16 Display

RSAF Helicopter Display

The USAF also had a sizable presence, but were less popular, partly due to the partisan crowd (this is Singapore, so the RSAF was, naturally, the belle of the ball), and partly due to the fact that their displays were not interactive. Just some planes to look at…

US Air Force   US Air Force

I popped back inside to cool down a little and found the Kiwis little corner, and a pretty spectacular turbine fan from Rolls Royce. This fan was about 8 feet high and rotating on a wall:

Even the Kiwis were there...   Rolls Royce Turbine Blades

Then it was back outside, past the civilian light aircraft display to join the massive crowd waiting for the Aerobatic Display to begin. I should add here that my wife was at the zoo with my mum and Lily. When I saw this crowd, I guessed that they’d be having a nice quiet day at the zoo as it looked like half of Singapore was at Changi – I was right, the Zoo was very quiet, which was nice for them…

Light Aircraft Display   The Crowds waiting for the Aerobatics to begin

First up was the Republic of Singapore Air Force, amazing the crowd with some stunning feats in a Lockheed Martin F-16:

RSAF F-16

RSAF F-16   RSAF F-16

He was soon joined by one of his colleagues in a Boeing AH-64 Apache. They performed a slow-speed pass along the crowd – particularly impressive when you think how slow helicopters usually fly, to have an Apache and an F-16 travelling at the same speed:

RSAF F-16 and AH-64 Apache Low-Speed Fly-By   RSAF F-16 and AH-64 Apache Low-Speed Fly-By

Then they came from opposite sides at high speed – I took a burst of 6 shots and only got one shot with both aircraft in it – that’s how fast they were.

RSAF F-16 and AH-64 Apache High-Speed Fly-By

The helicopter then showed us its versatility and power, before bowing out with a few words over the P.A. from the Pilot.

RSAF AH-64 Apache   RSAF AH-64 Apache

Next up was a USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II, affectionately (and accurately) named the “Warthog”.

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II   USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

The pilot, from the 23rd Wing of the United States Air Force based at Moody Air Base, Georgia (the “Flying Tigers”) showed us the versatility of this Close Air Support Aircraft:

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II   USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II   USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II

The USAF were immediately followed up by the Republic of Korea. Their contribution came in the form of a Korean Aerospace Industry T-50 Golden Eagle. This next-generation fighter trainer was pretty spectacular to watch, performing tight manoeuvres and dizzying turns. From what I recall of the commentary, it’s the only next-generation fighter trainer capable of full supersonic flight, and is actually used as a combat aircraft by the Republic of Korea’s Air Force on occasion.

ROK T-50 Golden Eagle

ROK T-50 Golden Eagle   ROK T-50 Golden Eagle

ROK T-50 Golden Eagle

ROK T-50 Golden EagleROK T-50 Golden Eagle   ROK T-50 Golden Eagle

Following the T-50 was the only civilian aircraft in the display. A Eurocopter EC 130. Apparently, it’s the Rolls-Royce of private Helicopters, and if you’re ever planning a flight over New York or the Grand Canyon, you should insist on this as your vehicle of choice.

Eurocopter EC 130

Eurocopter EC 130   Eurocopter EC 130

Finally, we were given some aerobatic thrills by the Italian Air Force in the form of the Aermacchi M346, another next-generation fighter trainer. Originally developed as a joint venture between Aermacchi and Russian firm Yakovlev, they parted ways in 2000, and each continued development independently of the other. Although not fully supersonic, it was still pretty impressive, with some very tight turning ability, putting the pilot through some savage G-forces.

Aermacchi M346

Aermacchi M346   Aermacchi M346

Aermacchi M346

and that was the end of a pretty spectacular flying display by some incredibly talented pilots and crews. What more can I say… wow!

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