|The final weekend of the Maltese school holiday is the regular slot for the Malta International Airshow, now held every 2 years. With the support of the Malta tourism authority and oil company Enemed, the biggest outdoor event on the Maltese islands returned in 2023 near the national aquarium at Saint-Paulís bay (Bugibba) to the delight of enthusiasts.
One part of the event was held at Bugibba at least, and arguably the biggest, but fans also relish the opportunity to visit the static display at Luqa airport, which was divided in two parts this year, with the RAF Red Arrows and a USAF TC-135 parked up near Montekristo estate, and a second part at Safi Aviation Park. The two parts were linked by an effective shuttle bus service, making sure visitors could see all participants upclose, which included an impressive array of Italian helicopters from various government services.
From 14:00 until about 17:45, the flying display was held at the coast near the national aquarium. A changing of the guard this year, with R5 Air Displays from the UK taking over from TSA which ran the display in previous years to ensure a safe event over the bay.
A few days before the show, the Patrouille Suisse were unfortunately forced to cancel their much-anticipated debut appearance in Malta, especially with their disappearance from the European display scene looming, but there remained much to look forward to at the show.
We already mentioned the Red Arrows, but it was the Armed Forces of Malta hometeam that opened and closed the show. The King Air having gone unserviceable, the opening flypast was with the BN2 Islander, Alouette 3 and AW-139. The Alouette also closed the show with a flag pass slung under the helicopter, the final time it will appear at the show.
Also very exciting were the Flying Bulls with their B-25, P-38 and a pair of Alpha Jets, very far away from their Salzburg home indeed and very rare to see such aircraft in the Maltese skies! Also making their debut at the show were the Polish air force F-16 Tiger Demo Team and the always impressive Slovenian PC-9M solo display.
A surprise addition was a Falcon 7X from the Maltese company Skyfirst, flown by a Dassault test pilot and putting on a very spirited display. Returning to the show were the Swiss F-18 and Soloturk solo display teams.
Watch the complete report above (43 minutes)
Sadly, the Sunday display was cancelled due to sea state, incidentally underlining the shortcomings of the PA-system as this information could not be effectively communicated to the large crowd.
Malta is a welcome addition to the airshow calendar, offering some late summer sun most of the time before a long winter break. It can easily be combined with some family time on the island as the event doesnít extend to unreasonable display lengths requiring silly early starts. Who ever knew the hobby could also be taken leisurely?
|Report by Chris Janssens
Thanks to Paul Johnson
Lay-out and content by Chris Janssens, 2005 - present