USAF F-16 Thunderbirds and RMAF Sukhoi airshow

This wasn’t a chance to be missed! USAF F-16 Thunderbirds are coming to Kuala Lumpur for an aerial display, plus of course our very own local Malaysian RMAF Sukhoi jet in the opening act! So it was a must see!

Despite the traffic jam leading to the airbase plus I didn’t know where exactly is the entrance to the Subang airbase did give me some trouble to get there in the morning. Idil said I should go there early in the morning at 6am! Brrr… I still want my sleep! So I took my time getting there and left about 9am in the morning. The air show was slated to start at around 10:30am but the crowd has already gone on ahead early and I was stuck in a crawl with the latecomers. Halfway through, I decided to stop at BHP petrol station for a break. Met guy there who was wondering why there was a massive traffic jam in the early Saturday morning. So I told him about the air show. This was one of tha “Ah…” moment when he realized what caused the bad traffic jam.

I was contemplating to walk to the airbase but wasn’t sure how far it was. Waiting a little while longer the traffic eased up a bit and I decided to drive there. The airbase is actually sharing the same runway with the civilian airport. According to some people the airbase entrance is really far away and rather jammed up at the moment. The airport terminal is also jam up too. Since most people are just parking helter-skelter near to the Subang airport terminal, I did the same and followed the people for a good vantage point. Some stayed near their cars, but I felt the angle was not good with shrubs and building blocking the way. Besides some manoeuvres are done over the airfield so it might be better to get nearer.

Following some people around I had to skirt around some fencing that looked like a DMZ zone. I couldn’t enter the compound of a company as I didn’t have any contacts to give me entry. Anyway, the guards were helpful and said that I can skirt around the perimeter. It was a narrow 3 feet wide corridor between two fences, on side the airfield, on the other the company. Oh, well, I just followed around and see where it leads.

It was quite a long walk, and I had to do a little commando walking as do many who wanted to avoid a deep puddle of water. Don’t like getting my shoes wet as it would be rather uncomfortable. Before long, I could see a wide spacing area, and I decided to reach for it as it had better open space viewing of the jets that would fly around.

I spied many photographers bringing along their DSLR with some long telephoto lens. I guess I’m a bit like them as I brought along my Canon EOS 30D with a 18mm-200mm Sigma lens. I also brought along my Panasonic SDR-40 video camera. I wanted to have both still photos and moving videos. I think would be more interesting to have videos capturing their manouvres and loud jet sounds! With two camera equipment I suspect I would have lots of trouble juggling between the two photography equipment.

The sky was moody with clouds all over. A bit of breeze on the ground. Not a very conducive weather for an air show. A slight drizzle was happening and threatening a downpour while we waited. Everybody waited excitedly while a couple of civilian passenger craft took off from the airfield.

Finally we could hear the Russian made Sukhoi jet aircraft as it warmed its engine and showed up on the tarmac. At that time I thought it was the Mig 29 Fulcrum, it was reported as such in the newspaper. But my friends pointed out that it was a SU-30MKM Flanker C, even a YouTuber blasted me and said that I wasn’t a jetfighter fan! Ok, ok… you are smarter than me la, feel any better with my ego bruised? Hmm… I didn’t know we have that jet fighter.

The solo acrobatic manoeuvres was quite good for a local Malaysian RMAF flying a SU-30MKM Flanker C, caught it on video. I have some trouble following its manoeuvres and lost sight of it in the video camera display when it went straight up. Despite the cloudy sky and slight drizzle it was difficult to see. It was still bright and staring out up into the sky still smarts my eyes!

After the SU-30MKM Flanker C landed and taxied back to its hangars. It was a long wait. The sky beginning to drizzle more and my wife called me and said that it was raining at home in Bandar Utama. I was getting a little bit worried about my photography equipment should it rain and would spoil. I should have brought along my umbrella. No choice but to wait and see whether the weather will improve or become worse than I will make my decision. Albert also called up and said that he just arrived near the airbase but decided not walk in and stayed near his car together with his wife and kids. The view may not be so great but still could see something I suppose. I guess he didn’t want to commando in like I did.

It was a long wait. The sky was threatening a downpour with bits of drizzle.

The sound of the F-16 jets firing up meant that the show was on! A short while later six USAF F-16 Thunderbirds with their white, red, blue markings showed up on the runway. After further checking by the technical crew the F-16 waited for the clearance from the air tower before taking off.

Scanning the sky for their reappearance I readied my Canon DSLR. At first a single F-16 showed, and I took some shots. I wasn’t too sure with my settings and the photos came out blurry. I was also juggling with my photography equipment not sure as to when to use the DSLR or the video camera. Got a lot of blurry shots and even wasted videos accidentally bumping into video buttons.

The F-16 aerial acrobat was great with closed formation flying, thrilling fly pass, upside down flying including flower like display. However it was very difficult to juggle between the two photography equipment and with the bright sky blinding my eyes, I lost many videos of their aerial display. Many a times I lost track of their location in the video though I could see from my naked eyes but I couldn’t find them in the video viewfinder.

Next to me those guys with their DSLRs were shooting at high speed. You could hear them on my video as it went clicking away.

Ok, so my videos and photos were a disappointment. However the air show by the USAF F-16 Thunderbirds were nevertheless very interesting. With the loud sound of jets buzzing by, not knowing from which direction they came also made it harder to figure out where to point your camera.

If already in an air show you were already expecting them to fly over and still so difficult to spot them then in a real combat situation you won’t even know the fighter jet is coming till it is on top of you!

Oh, well, so here is two set of shaky video pictures of the USAF F-16 Thunderbirds and SU-30MKM Flanker C air show in Subang Airport, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Some pictures and photos:
USAF F-16 Thunderbirds and RMAF Sukhoi SU-30MKM Flanker C airshow photos

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