RMAF pilots’ airshow spectacle delights the crowd

High-flying mavericks: (anti-clockwise from top) RMAF pilots putting on an air show; Muhammad Osman (centre) and his fellow pilots; South Korean Black Eagles walking on the tarmac at Lima ‘23. — Bernama

LANGKAWI: The South Korean “oppa” pilots called the Black Eagles may have stolen the limelight and the crowd’s attention during the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition 2023 (Lima ‘23), but our Malaysian pilots are equally impressive in their own right.

The 23 Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) pilots who took part in the air show at Lima ‘23 had also wowed the crowd with numerous “deadly” manoeuvres that kept eyes glued to the sky.

For Mejar Muhammad Osman Mohd Sidek, formations like the Falling Leaf, TVC J Turn, Tail Slide, Cobra Spike, Half Loop Tumble Yaw, Belly Barrel, Max Ab Turn, Spin Roll Hi AOA and Falling Leaf To Land, which they performed, were however not as easy as they appeared.

“From the ground, it may look calm, but up there, it feels like a raging storm,” he told Bernama when met on the tarmac of the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre.

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The pilot, who hails from Tangkak, Johor, and has nine years of experience, said Lima ‘23 was his second time participating and flying the Sukhoi-Su-30MKM, as well as his first solo air display appearance.

Sharing his experience flying the aircraft, Muhammad Osman said he had faced some anxious moments related to the engine and the aircraft systems, but with sufficient training for such situations, he was able to handle them successfully.

“Actually, the various formations we performed were also supported by the capabilities of the aircraft and the intensive training we received ever since we entered the RMAF up until we reached the next level,” said the father of three who had received the Safe Flight Award after flying 1,000 hours without any incident.

The former student of the Royal Military Air Force College in Alor Setar, Kedah, described taking part in Lima with aerobatic teams from other countries who had more experience in air shows as one of his most precious memories of being in the service.

“Here, we can exchange information, opinions, tactics and make new friends,” he said.

For spectator Nor Fatin Ahmad, 30, who lives near Kuah, the RMAF’s aerobatic show is one of the things she looks forward to at Lima because she enjoys watching the sharp dives and turns of the Sukhoi aircraft, which she describes as nerve-racking.

“For me, other countries’ aerobatic teams are fantastic, but seeing the RMAF team in the air is more exciting.

“I didn’t know we had such good facilities and that the RMAF has produced pilots who I believe are among the best,” she said.

In addition to the Black Eagles, Lima ‘23 also featured international aerobatic teams from Indonesia known as Jupiter, China (August 1st), the Russian Knights, and Al Fursan (United Arab Emirates).

The gimmick for this year’s LIMA 2023 consists of 36 aircraft from the RMAF, Malaysian Army and RMAF Special Forces such as the F/A18- AD Hornet, Hawk 108/208, Sukhoi SU30-MKM and C-130H transport aircraft and A400M.

RMAF is also now conducting a capability improvement programme, dubbed the Service Life Extension Programme, for their Sukhoi class aircraft to ensure that these aircraft remain fit for service.

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