Fursan Al Emarat (The Knights of the Emirates), the UAE National Aerobatic Team (UAE Air Force’s aerobatic display team), will be turning heads at Dubai Air Show this year. The team, the public face of the UAE Air Force, will make multiple appearances on all five show days, between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., said team leader Col. Nasser Al Obaidli. “We perform highly skillful maneuvers to reflect the skill levels of UAE pilots in general."
Earlier this year, Fursan Al Emarat staged its Central European premiere at the Slovak International Air Festival (SIAF) at Sliač Airport in June and also appeared at the XIII International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS 2017, at Zhukovsky Airfield outside Moscow, in July. "We are busy all year, and our work necessitates this," Al Obaidli said. "Training twice a day, five times a week, takes up most of the season. Flying aerobatic style is not easy, even if you are an experienced pilot.”
Fursan Al Emarat was formed in 2010 and flew its inaugural display at Dubai International Airport in November 2011, to mark the occasion of that year’s Dubai Air Show. It debuted internationally at the Bahrain International Airshow in January 2012 and has appeared regularly ever since.
In the runup to the team’s first public appearance, Fursan Al Emarat team members took a six-month training course under the supervision of Frecce Tricolori pilots at Rivolto Air Base in Italy, with an additional six months’ preparation in the UAE.
The Fursan Al Emarat display team comprises seven aircraft, representing the seven emirates of the UAE, and has a total of 12 aircraft in the fleet, Al Obaidli said. The display team operates the Aermacchi MB-339A, a version of an Italian-built military jet trainer and light attack aircraft. “It is a good, robust aircraft,” Al Obaidli said.
Every pilot, a seasoned member of the team, has his own name on the aircraft. “You have to get to know your aircraft, and the sounds and behaviors it is capable of. We try to keep our pilots current. We like to fly our own personal aircraft, but we have spares in cases when they are needed,” he said.
“This is a very dangerous flying job. Concentration is required at all times. You cannot relax. Sometimes, the aircraft get very close to each other, and that is why you fly every day, just to keep things in hand. In this job, fitness is very important, so that you can physically and mentally stay away from any problems.”
Fursan Al Emarat will also be in the air on the 46th Anniversary of UAE Independence. “We celebrate our National day from November until December 2. This year, we will be flying along the UAE’s east coast, in [the emirates of] Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain and Sharjah, as well as over Abu Dhabi Corniche.”