Osan Airpower Day 2011
The Osan Airpower Day 2011 must have left mixed emotions amongst many of the visitors. On one hand people enthusiastically did give applause for the aerial demonstrations, but on the other hand strict security measures did leave many people disappointed - mainly those who invested quite some efforts to come to South Korea to attend this event.
Where? Osan AB, South Korea
Bringing passports and the restrictions on backpacks and liquids are well known from other US airshows, but from a European point-of-view it will remain a mistery why visitors from the Netherlands were refused access to the show. Furthermore the show was scheduled until 5pm, however on Sunday the whole show area was closed from around 0330pm on for 'safety reasons'. Quite understandable as the ramp became 'hot' shortly afterwards as most of the RoKAF jets were leaving, but the Security Forces did not finish their duty until everybody was not only out of the ramp, but out of the airbase. Many disappointed faces were the cause amongst the visitors, as some spots along the fence would have provided some nice and rare views of the aircraft in action and ready to depart. The desire to photograph these rare views was not completely understandable for the Korean visitors, but all foreigners just shook their heads while being forced out way ahead of the scheduled end of the event.
But fortunately there were also many positiv things to remember that made the trip worthwhile.
Where for example can you see a U-2 taking off and landing during an airshow or A-10s and F-16s releasing flares during a CSAR demonstration?
The displays had to be modified a little bit on Saturday due to a very bad weather with a low ceiling, but in the end nearly all displays took place apart from the RoKAF "Black Eagles". Sunday brought a deep blue sky from the early morning on and best conditions for the flying displays.
A fabulous formation of A-10s did make the start together with parachutists carrying the Korean and US flags.
Shortly before the U-2 was launched with an impressive engine noise (for an aircraft that makes the impression of being a sailplane...) and amazing rate of climb.
The USAF did furthermore show their F-16 and A-10 solo displays in the morning.
Highly expected were of course the flying displays of the Royal Korean Air Force (RoKAF). KT-1, the T-50 and F-15K were on the list as well as the Black Eagles display team, which gained much of applaus by the fascinated spectators.
The only drawbacks were the non-appearance of the 'Slam Eagle's due to technical problems on Sunday, and also the display team had to show up with only seven instead of eight jets due to one of the pilots not being able to perform.
Fortunately the F-15K already flew on Saturday, and the blue and white skmade up for the 'imperfect' formations of the Black Eagles, though the without one of the solo pilots the crossing maneuvers were non-existent.
To finish the day the show the USAF did show a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) set-piece, involving two A-10th Thunderbolt II, four F-16 Fighting Falcon and two UH-60 rescue helicopters.The time between take-off and the real action in front of the spectators on the ground was quite long, but the flying later on really made up for this. The storyboard was build up around a downed pilot, but more or less everybody was keen on seeing the jets turning around in the sky and releasing flares.
Whereas not very ideal during the rest of the day the dark gray sky on Saturday even improved these sights more than the blue one on Sunday, but to draw an end to the flying displays both A-10 ejected a massive amount of flares at the very end of their display. This might have drawn a perfect end to this day, wouldn't it have been for the point that was mentioned at the beginning of this report.
The Airpower Day was thus not a very big event with the main intention to improve the relation with the local community and to improve the cultural undertanding – and of course it was also a rare and exclusive chance to see some unique flying displays. However there still remains some room for improvements and visitor satisfaction, hopefully to be implemented in the future.
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