NINE pilots from South Korea’s Air Force team made waves here as their debut at the 14th Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) 2017 was met with unexpected popularity.
The country’s cream of the crop Black Eagles pilots, aged between 33 and 39, had fans queueing up to take photos and selfies with them.
There was also an autograph session lasting more than 20 minutes during a meet-and-greet at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) here yesterday.
During the interview with the media, team leader Major Lee Kyu-won laughingly greeted the press in English with “Hello. How are you? I am fine”, before the interpreter took over the microphone when reporters started posing questions.
He said they are happy to be able to make it to their first Lima here.
“I can feel everyone’s passion. We made our first international debut in England, UK in 2012.
“We have also performed in Singapore before and we want to tell more people about us, so that they can get to know us,” he said.
When teased by a Lima staff if they could dance, referring to the country’s popular K-pop bands, the group of pilots, who were all dressed in black uniform, laughed, shook their heads and said “no, no” in unison.
Among the highlights of their aerial display manoeuvres are a heart shape and the yin-yang circle of the South Korea national flag using the smoke trails of their KAI T-50B Golden Eagle aircraft.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Air Force Acrobatics Team’s crash during their rehearsal at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) 2015, spurred them to perform better at this Lima.
The Indonesia Jupiters’ mission commander Novyan Samyoga said their team of 12 pilots, comprising three new faces, returned more determined to bring more “critical” manoeuvres after their withdrawal from the prior Lima edition.
“From our experience in 2015, where we had an unpleasant accident, we had two years to train and brush up our professional training again for Lima this year.
“We also wanted to show to the world and international audience that the incident did not break our spirit or make us give up, as we are still standing here. We want to thank the Lima organisers and Malaysia for this chance to perform again,” he said during a press conference yesterday.
In 2015, the wings of their two aerobatics planes KT-1B Woongbi clipped each other in mid-air and crashed. Four of the airmen ejected safely from the two-seater aircraft, but they withdrew from the event following the dramatic crash.
Samyoga said they had brought the same equipment and seven aircraft, but elaborated on their variety of act in the air, compared with previous years.
Meanwhile, Colonel Andrey Alexeev, lead pilot of the Russian Knights Aerobatic Team, praised the Malaysian pilots, for their high level of professionalism.
“The professional level of Malaysian pilots is very high. Of course I saw the Malaysian pilots flying, so that’s the basis of my impression about the Malaysian pilots.
“We keep in touch and we understand the level of combat preparation of the pilots.
“You can see that when you communicate with your counterparts,” he said.
Alexeev spoke to reporters through a Russian interpreter after taking questions from foreign journalists about the brand new Su-30SM aircraft during a press conference at the MIEC here yesterday.
The Russian Knights, an aerobatic demonstration team of the Russian Air Force, presented their new flight programme on the Su-30SM aircraft for the first time abroad, said Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut Corporation in a statement on Monday.