Dubai Air Show

UAE Team Paints Sky with Its National Colors

 - November 12, 2011, 10:59 AM
Al Fursan, the United Arab Emirates Air Force’s flight display team, is making its debut at the Dubai Air Show this week. (Photo: David McIntosh)

Al Fursan, the United Arab Emirates Air Force’s flight display team, is making its debut here this week, where it is performing its precision aerobatics routine in celebration of both the event and the UAE’s 40th anniversary.

“This was the plan to launch the team to the public and the world through the Dubai Air Show 2011,” said Brig. Gen. Khaled Bahussain, Al Fursan team director, and chairman of the Flying Control Committee of this year’s Dubai show. “We are very happy that everything went as planned, and very proud to be the UAE’s national aerobatics team.”

Al Fursan–which is Arabic for “The Knights”–flies the Aermacchi MB339, an Italian jet trainer and light attack aircraft. The seven-ship team–representing the seven emirates that make up the UAE–performs its low-level aerobatic maneuvers in close formation, wingtip-to-wingtip.

“People are not used to seeing jets flying very low to the ground and, on top of that, in formation,” said team leader Lt. Col. Nasser Al Obaidly. “It looks dangerous, but with practice it is as safe as flying high in the sky. There is risk, of course–bird activity, things like that–but we’ve been trained in how to overcome this.”

The jets are painted in gold-and-black livery, the colors representing the desert’s golden sands and the black gold–oil–that lies beneath it. The team performed warm-up displays at regional airshows earlier this year, but considers this as its real introduction to an international audience.

With the UAE looking to aviation to play a major role in the region’s economic growth, Al Fursan will likely help bring more attention to the UAE’s fast-expanding range of indigenous capabilities, while inspiring the next generation. “I’m sure it will attract more young kids,” said Col. Al Obaidly. “Even my kid–I have a daughter, and she always told me she wants to be a lawyer. But yesterday she saw the show and afterward she said, ‘Dad, I want to be a pilot now.’”

Al Fursan is performing daily during the airshow.