This month’s Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009, the Garden City of the United Arab Emirates’ annual aviation spectacle, will be the first outside of Europe to host the Swift Aerobatic Display Team – a record-breaking glider outfit that performs amazing feats using just the power of gravity.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), which organises the event in conjunction with the UAE Air Force, believes the inclusion of new-to-the region displays are critical in reinforcing the Al Ain spectacle as one of the world’s most prominent aerobatics events.
“The addition of fresh to the region displays keeps our offering dynamic and is important in maintaining the show’s world-class standing,” said Ahmed Hussein, Deputy Director General Tourism Operations, ADTA.
“This event is not just about sheer power; it incorporates all elements of aviation from the early prop planes of the 1940s to the engine-free grace of gliders. It really has something for everyone.”
The six-member UK-based Swift Team is led by renowned glider pilot, Guy Westgate, who began developing manoeuvres for their dazzling performance more than a decade ago.
“We are the only team to perform the roll-on-tow manoeuvre, where the glider flies upside down while being pulled by the towplane,” said Westgate.
Swift Team pilots have vowed to perform a special cameo
for the 130,000 spectators expected at Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009, which will run from January 28-31st at Al Ain International Airport.
“Spectators should expect to be surprised,” said Westgate, a former record-breaking, glider display champion. “If they have seen glider displays before, they need to wipe the slate clean; we do things differently!
“We found the traditional glider display format far too limiting, so we now have a three-part display. First, we have the takeoff and low-level display where the gliders begin manoeuvres while still on the towplane, and then we go into a set of formations from the Twister aircraft on only 80 horse power. Finally, at release altitude, the glider will combine grace and aggression to show the very best of unlimited aerobatics using only the power of gravity.”
Westgate added that he and the five other Swift Team members are looking forward to exploring Al Ain after researching the area.
“Part of the excitement for us is that we do not know what to expect from Al Ain,” he said. “We have studied the airfield and surrounding terrain on Google Earth and it looks very different from flying above England’s leafy green meadows. When you are performing you don’t have any spare concentration to admire the surroundings so we’ll have to take time out of our schedule to discover Abu Dhabi.”
Swift Team joins a host of pilots and display outfits from more than 15 countries for Al Ain Aerobatic Show 2009. One of the highlights of the four days of action will be the regional debut of Aero GP Al Ain – the multi-discipline aerobatics event and the only international air racing series with multiple airplanes simultaneously competing against each other (a sport called ‘pylon racing’).
Nicknamed aviation’s ‘Formula One’, Aero GP Al Ain will see five world-class pilots battle it out in a straight air race, as well as testing their skills in aerial combat and their aim in a ‘barnstorming’ targeting competition.