Air Show Turkiye
In many places aviation Centennials are celebrated, and so did the Turkish Air Force. The official events already started in January, but cumulated for the public in the International air show, hosted at the 2nd Main Jet Base Command (Çigli/Izmir) on 04-05 June 2011. As Turkey is very secretive and restricted with everything regarding their military, it is no wonder that the spotterdays offered on the day before and after the event was soon fully booked with 1000 (!) enthusiasts wanting to attend.
Where? Izmir, Turkey
The Air Show Türkiye-2011 was a distinguished activity among the centennial activities of the Turkish Air Force. Of course the main focus of the flight program was hoped to be based around the different aircraft of the Turkish Air Force, and the announced "Turkish Air Force Inventory Pass", which included Cougar helicopters, T-41, SF-260, T-37, KT-1, T-38, CN-235, C-160, C-130, KC-135, F-16, F4-E/2020, NF-5 2000 and T-34 promised to be an excellent opportunity of aircraft rarely seen in the sky. Amongst them the TuAF is one of the few remaining Air Forces to use the T-37 and T-38 trainer aircraft.
On Saturday the flying display began with a parachutists display and the "Inventory Flypast". This was the thing that most enthusiasts were looking for with numerous TuAF aircraft flying by. Just like every flypast this went by too fast, but the many different trainer and transport aircraft, a KC-135 as well as the fast jets made up for a marvellous sight in the sky.
The rest of the flying program went very smooth with only very little interrupts and lasted for eight hours until 6pm.
Preceding the jet aircraft solo displays was the F-16C "SOLOTÜRK" (Display Team Website) display, especially set-up by the TuAF to celebrate the centennial. As the display team's website states, "SOLOTURK is a new value presented by Turkish Air Force in its 100th Foundation Anniversary to Turkish Nation. The most important and significant symbols of our Republic, Turkish Nation and Turkish Air Force are included in the graphic design of SOLOTURK". And for sure the black / silver / golden design of the Fighting Falcon was stunning in the blue Izmir sky! "SOLO TÜRK" was set up to celebrate the anniversary of the Turkish Air Force and the display was flown by Maj. Murt Keles, who was celebrated just like a rock star by the crowd. The display did not only reflect the capabilities of the TuAF, but also the national pride with the golden Eagle and crescent markings, and the commentary during the display pushed the spectators even so much that they started running on the taxiway after the pilot did finish its display to salute him!
Similar, but not with the same outcome, was the display of the Turkish Stars. As an airshow regular this team is always a welcome sight around Europe with its NF-5 Tigers, but it was a special experience to see it performing in its home country and hearing the commentary in its native language.