|It is fair to say 2016 was not the easiest year for the Malta Aviation Society to organize the Malta International Airshow for the 24th time. Uncertainty about participants and difficulties with the venue led to some controversial but necessary decisions. Most importantly though in hindsight: did it work?
An accident during a car in event in 2015 in which several audience members were injured at Malta’s International Airport meant the airport management was less than keen to host another high-profile event on its grounds for reasons of liability, something which combined with the Shoreham accident meant the airshow had to look for a new location, an impossible task on an island with only one active airport. A decision was made to divide the airshow to a static display at the airport in the morning and early afternoon, and then run the airshow itself over the sea in late afternoon. This was not without precedent, when the air display was held over Saint-Paul’s Bay during reconstruction at the airport.
Conversely, the car parking that was available nearby was not free of charge. Perhaps an agreement could be reached to take some of the revenue from car parking to cover organization costs.
Watch the complete report above (36 minutes)
While the venue was one problem, aircraft participation was a second headache. Lasting uncertainty over the event undoubtedly didn’t help with this matter. The static was certainly down in numbers compared to previous years, but it has to be said that the quality of participants was outstanding, including the likes of a French navy Falcon 50, US Navy Poseidon P-8, Ukrainian IL-76 and a Portuguese Casa 295 on Sunday. Also, all flying display participants were also present at the airport for public viewing in the morning.
The air display started around 5PM on Saturday afternoon and ran all the way to sunset with a pyrotechnics display by the Italian Pioneer team. Opening the display were the Armed Forces of Malta with an Alouette III, followed by a pair’s routine by their AW139 and King Air. Then came the other locals, the Italian military mission to Malta with an AB-212. The US Navy came by with a second P-8 Poseidon for a few fly-bys, quite a coup for the airshow! An aerobatics display by the Italian Silver Chicken Cap 21 preceded the Ukrainian SU-27 display, complete with flares, before a number of flypasses by the Polish Bialo Czerwoni Iskry, not a full display.
It is clear that the show still had lots of quality. It was therefore all the more regrettable that the air display had to be scrubbed on Sunday due to very high winds, for the first time in the history of the event. Hopefully the Malta Aviation Society will have better luck in 2017 for their 25th anniversary airshow. The dedicated volunteers certainly deserve it!
by Chris Janssens
Lay-out and content by Chris Janssens, 2005 - present