2016 Event Review

Malta International Airshow, 24 - 25 September, 2016
Location: Park 4, Malta International Airport & flying display near Smart City, Kalkara
Admission: €8 at the gate for Statics, Under 14s free with paying adult. Flying display free of charge at the coast
Parking: Included in admission price
Value: Good
Rating out of 10: 7

SA316B Alouette

The success rate of any activity geared towards public attendance can be summed up by the four main pillars, namely: 1) its ability to draw the public to the event in their tens of thousands; 2) the enthusiasm and facilitation of communication that it creates for persons who share the specific area of interest; 3) satisfaction achieved by the major stakeholders; and most importantly 4) ensuring future events by generating revenue.

Malta International Airshow 2016, this year in its 24th edition, has in the opinion of many managed to pull off a good show in very difficult circumstances. It should be pointed out that Park 4 at Malta International Airport was also the venue, until 2015, of a charity fund-raising supercar show held just weeks apart. In the last edition of the supercar show around a year ago a Porsche 918 skidded uncontrollably and careened into the crowd, injuring 26 spectators including 5 critically. In the aftermath of what could have been a much bigger tragedy and to this date a legal process has ensued and which is still underway, hence it would be imprudent to comment any further upon it. However, it was obvious even then that the air show would be unjustly dragged into the spotlight despite its 23 years of flawless organization.

Perpetually at the crossroads of history Malta has had more than one airport/airfield for over a century. Up till the British Forces' complete withdrawal in 1979 and well into the 1980s the Maltese Islands boasted five serviceable airfields, Hal Far in the SE corner of the island was a former RNAS (HMS Falcon), it was later designated as an industrial site and is now packed with manufacturing plants and a half-mile stretch of speeding track. Safi airfield and Luqa airport, both former RAF stations, were amalgamated to form what is now Malta International Airport. Ta' Qali aerodrome formerly HMS Goldfinch, located in the central part of the island, has had its only runway broken up into several open air recreational spots, Nissen huts converted into a crafts village, The Malta Aviation Museum and Malta's national stadium complex. The NW end of Ta' Qali's runway undershoot serves as a radio controlled flying area which together with an extendable area (a car park) could provide enough room for a light aircraft or STOL to operate from. Ta' Qali was also used by the RAF during and after World War II. RAF Krendi (Qrendi, San Niklaw) is still recognizable today by virtue of a straight road and adjacent boxed fields which used to be its main runway. Apart from a large chicken farm, many of its former military installations are still reasonably intact and I have been told that its underground power generators are still in running order.
On an island with a population of less than half a million, it is undeniable that there are several thousands of Maltese who share a passion for aviation in both its civilian and/or military guises. On most days, come rain or shine, people from all walks of life gather at the 'Planka' (an open-air concrete viewing platform opposite Park 9) to view and photograph aircraft arrivals and departures. Technology is also present with the very latest DSLRs and mobile apps that enable enthusiasts to share timely information about upcoming movements and observations. For these enthusiasts and several hundred tourists which fly in to our shores, the annual airs how is the highlight of the Maltese aviation calendar. Its fate hanging by a thread, this year's edition of Malta Airshow has had to be split into two areas. As in all previous editions the static aircraft viewing remained at Park 4, Malta International Airport. Meanwhile, for this year, the flying display was moved out over the sea to a stretch of coast near Smart City, which is located at Kalkara in the SE of Malta. Airshow arrivals were spread out over two days, with the main 'flying display' participants arriving on Thursday and the 'statics' landing on Friday. This would give the 'flying' participants time to rehearse on Friday afternoon. As it turned out the Saturday display went ahead as planned but the Sunday display was cancelled due to bad weather, much to the disappointment of all. Most of the participating aircraft departed on Monday morning.
Malta International Airshow is organized by the Malta Aviation Society. Its volunteers give their own spare time throughout the year to ensure that the event progresses swiftly, safely and efficiently. The absence of a major aerobatic team in this year's line up and the split venue translated into a poor public attendance which is probably way below average for an airs how of this magnitude. The shifting of the air display to the coast has undoubtedly translated into an appreciable loss of revenue
Performers included:

Ukrainian Air Force

1 x IL-76 transport aircraft supporting the Flankers

2 x Su 27 Flankers, one UB variant and one P variant;

Royal Air Force / Royal Navy

1 x B200 King Air
1 x B300 T1 Avenger
Polish Air Force

6 x display team Iskry

1 x C295

1 x An28 GIII

Malta - Armed Forces of Malta
2 x B200 King Air
2 x Aw139 
1 x SA316B Alouette

Italy (AMI)

1 x AB212

Italy (civilian)

1 x CAP 21DS The Silver Chicken

4 x display team Pioneer 330

United States Navy
2 x P-8A Poseidon

French Navy
1 x Falcon 50

Other notable aircraft:

1 x Aw139 the newest addition to the AFM air wing arrived in Malta as I-PTFT, this helicopter now carries the Air Squadron serial AS1630

1 x Casa C295 a Portuguese AF aircraft made an overnight stop in Malta and was parked at Park 4 next to air show aircraft


Report by Christopher Mifsud and photography as noted for

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