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USAF Thunderbirds stunning display of air prowess in Malaysia

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Delta bottom-up pass formation performed to precision by US Air Force's Thunderbirds at the recent 2009 Far East Tour at RMAF Subang Air Force base in Malaysia.

Saturday, 3rd October 2009. My morning started with a 2 hours traffic jam to get into the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang. It was bumper-to-bumper all the way in from the many entry points like Glenmarie, Jelutong, Batu Tiga and Subang Jaya. I just had to be there no matter what the circumstances were, since it wasn’t an event that would come by that often, especially in Kuala Lumpur area. We may be able to catch such air show in the yearly LIMA event in Langkawi but it’s near impossible to witness “the” US Air Force’s Thunderbirds team.

By the time I managed to find a car park some 500 meters from the base, the place was already swarmed with people from different walks of life. Some parents were seen accompanying their children who were too eager to witness the air show for the first time in their life. By about 9:30am, the place was already packed with an estimated 150,000 people. I am glad that I took the effort to wake up early but the amount of people turning up for the aerial display were really unexpected.

The show proper started with an aerial display by our very own RMAF’s aircraft: the Russian made Sukhoi Su-30MKM fighting plane. It’s quite an attractive flying beauty and it was piloted by Lt Col Muhamad Norazlan Arif and Major Mohd Jasmi Abdul Wahab. Together they display some aerial stunts that wowed the crowds but it would be even more amazing if TUDM could present more than just one aircraft for the show.

11:30am – Just when the much anticipated Thunderbirds were about to take to the sky, the whether turned hostile and began to drizzle. Most people who had anticipated the bad whether started to pop their umbrellas and you could see a sea of umbrellas for as far as the eyes could see. If the drizzle hadn’t stop anytime soon, I dread to think of how I could see the awesome display from the base of my umbrella.

Typical of any American inspired events, they have very elaborate and articulate narrator to tell the story to accompany the amazing show. The spokesperson did a really good job of prepping the spectators on what to expect and a detailed explanation of the flight formations. Once a while he would would let loose some surprises to thrill and amaze the crowds. Below I would let the photos do most of the talking.

A twin flyby with the glow of the afterburners visible from the ground.

A twin flyby with the glow of the afterburners visible from the ground.

The engineering crew were seen doing their rituals before the start of the air show.

The ground + engineering crew were seen doing their rituals before the start of the air show.

The discipline of the ground crew were undisputable, their footworks,.......... even more amazing.

The discipline of the ground crew were undisputable, their footworks,.......... even more amazing.

No detail is too small for the Thunderbirds team, Thunderbirds crew chiefs spend  three hours prior to each flight meticulously checking each aurcraft, ensuring it is 100 percent mission capable. In the team's 56-years history, not one performance has ever been cancelled due to maintenance difficulties." Excerpt taken from the Thunderbirds 2009 booklet.

"No detail is too small for the Thunderbirds team, Thunderbirds crew chiefs spend three hours prior to each flight meticulously checking each aircraft, ensuring it is 100 percent mission capable. In the team's 56-years history, not one performance has ever been cancelled due to maintenance difficulties." Excerpt taken from the Thunderbirds 2009 booklet. Now, that is what I called commitment to excellence!

The Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon - On the ground they are but a sitting duck but once they are in the air, they are the most feared flying machine in the world!

The Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon - On the ground they are but a sitting duck but once they are in the air, they are the most feared flying machine in the world!

To me, that's the best seat in the house.....

To me, that's the best seat in the house..... to view the air show from atop the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III.

A top view of the beautiful Thunderbirds F-16C Fighting Falcon.

A top view of the beautiful Thunderbirds F-16C Fighting Falcon.

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Thunderbirds.... doing the calypso.

Reverse Calypso?

Reverse calypso?

Thunderbirds in diamond pass in review formation.

Thunderbirds in diamond pass in review formation.

4 in formation with a solo fly-past

Four in formation with their landing wheels down and a solo flypast.

Five abreast.

Five abreast.

Line abreast loop with solo break

Line abreast loop with solo break

Demonstrating the high speed maneuvering capability of the F-16C

Demonstrating the high speed maneuvering capability of the F-16C. The high-G maneuver caused a large amount of vapor to come off its wings.

Demonstrating the tradition, perfection, diligence, embodiment, humility, teamwork, perseverance, consistency, character, initiative, pride and meticulous

Demonstrating the tradition, perfection, diligence, embodiment, humility, teamwork, perseverance, consistency, character, initiative, pride and meticulous capabilities of the team - that's what "USAF Thunderbirds" is all about!

Every which way is the right way - I guess no way is not their way.

Every which way is the right way - I guess no-way is not their way.

Wing-tip to wing-tip.... that's the precision of the Thunderbirds!

Wing-tip to wing-tip.... that's the precision of the Thunderbirds!

I guess it's a walk in the park for them....pilots, ground crews and all!

I guess it's a walk in the park for them....pilots, ground crew and all!

Thunderbird F-16C Fighting Falcon demonstrating its supermaneuverability and advanced thrust vectoring systems. On the foreground are 2 competing aircraft. One from USAF Thunderbird and the other from RMAF Su-30MKM.

Thunderbird F-16C Fighting Falcon demonstrating its super-maneuverability and advanced thrust vectoring system. On the foreground are 2 competing aircraft, nose-to-nose. One is the US Air Force's Thunderbird F-16C and the other the Royal Malaysian Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30MKM.

Two Thunderbirds performing the tricky and risky crossover break formation.

Two Thunderbirds performing the tricky and risky crossover break formation.

Vertical roll demonstration.

Vertical roll demonstration.

Thunderbirds executing the bomb burst formation.

Thunderbirds executing the bomb burst formation.

Thunderbirds ending the airshow with a bang.

Thunderbirds ending the airshow with a bang.

Another mission accomplished. Seen here is the F-16C belonging to Maj. Sean Gusttafson (SLOT) taxing on the tarmac after another successful mission for the Thunderbirds.

Another mission accomplished. Seen here is the F-16C belonging to Maj. Sean Gusttafson (SLOT) taxing on the tarmac after another successful mission for the Thunderbirds.

A Thunderbird's ground crew member running past an F-16C fighting falcon (on display) as the other 6 fighter air craft landed safely after a successful air show.

A Thunderbird's ground crew member running past an F-16C fighting falcon (on display) as the other 6 fighter aircraft landed safely after a successful air show at RMAF Subang, Malaysia.

Up close and personal with the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon.

Up close and personal with the Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon.

The humongous Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft that is one of the supporting aircraft accompanying the Thunderbirds team on their mission across the globe.

The humongous Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft that is used as one of the supporting aircraft accompanying the Thunderbirds team on their mission across the globe.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30MKM that took part in the earlier aerial display before the Thunderbirds took to the sky.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force's Sukhoi Su-30MKM that took part in the earlier aerial display just before the Thunderbirds took to the sky.

Although the gloomy weather was not helping with the Thunderbirds aerial display and the muted sky did not help with the photography, the more than 150,000 spectators really had a blast with the spectacular aerial display shown by both the Malaysian Sukhoi Su-30MKM and the Thunderbirds F-16C performance. As the America’s Ambassadors in Blue, the Thunderbirds team succeeded in bringing the people of the two nations together, as witness by the more than 150,000 people jamming the RMAF Subang air force base to catch a glimpse of the air superiority prowess of the most powerful nation on earth – the United States of America.

Comments

  1. Nice shots man!

  2. Dood, amazing AMAZING shots. You’re one heck of a photographer!

  3. USAF ThunderBirds visited Japan and performed the exhibition flight in Hamamatsu. Thank you.
    USAF ThunderBirds at Hamamatsu AB

    • tamekich,
      Thank you for the link. Very nice video of the Thunderbirds performance. At least I can view the air show from the comfort of my own home. 🙂

  4. awesome and incredible shots man. u took the shots at the correct time. nice.

  5. fantastic shots davie, really really nice.

  6. Davie, I cannot see any photos on this site. Can you please tell me how to view them? Thanks.

  7. itsahanzo says:

    Nice shots! There will be another airshow this weekend. Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Open Day at Subang Air Base on Sunday, June 3, 2012. I hope I can take some nice shots like you and post on my blog at itsahanzo.wordpress.com. Really lovely shots which can be sold for money and artistry!!

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