Those who follow me on Facebook will know that I recently spent 6 weeks in Cairo. This was not a travel destination as such for me as I was there to work on a project that included an aircraft display by the Egyptian Air Force.
As an aside, I visited the Airforce museum close to the hotel I called home for the duration of my stay. Use this link to see what I wrote about my experience: https://travelandthings.co.za/2023/09/egyptian-air-force-museum-cairo/
I was soon to discover that sunsets over Cairo are particularly intense. And on the evenings when the sunset and the airforce were involved, it made for spectacular images.
The images in this post are combined from several rehearsals that the Air Force completed in the run-up to the ceremony that I was working on.
Before arriving in Egypt I had not been an ‘aircraft’ person. However, watching this airforce changed my mind and being so close to the action made me understand just what was involved in a display of this nature.
Egypt is home to the 8th strongest airforce in the world currently. (https://www.businessinsider.com/most-powerful-air-forces-in-the-world-in-2023-ranked-2023-6)
To find out more about the Egyptian Air Force, use this link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egyptian_Air_Force
The EAF refer to these as the Delta Force. They are microlights, similar to the ones used by the anti-poaching units in South Africa.
The sky was filled with them at one point in the display and their ‘antics’ were breathtaking.
From my vantage point, I was almost able to see the pilot’s faces as they flew as close to the venue as was safe to do.
If my memory serves me correctly, there were 50 involved in the display.
One of the best displays by a sky-diving team I have witnessed.
Not all these parachutists were scheduled to land at the venue, and on one rehearsal, when the wind did not play along, we watched as they floated off into the distance without a single one landing on the parade ground.
But that was the only time that there was an ‘issue’ and at every other rehearsal and the event itself, they landed perfectly within the designated area.
“I love the smell of napalm in the morning” to quote a line from Apocalypse Now.
Except this was Cairo 2023 and not Vietnam 1970
This display by a division of the Egyptian military showed how ready they were for non-conventional warfare. I was more than impressed by the capabilities of not only the pilots but the commandoes who took part in this exercise.
A group of soldiers balance on this platform as they participate in the flypast. I have seen displays similar to this in Congo Brazzaville and when I saw them there I thought that they were just dummies, until they saluted.
So this time I was prepared.
The highlight of the aerial display by the EAF had to be the performance of the “Silver Stars” the current Egyptian Air Force aerobatic display team.
The pilot who performed the solo manoeuvres was highly qualified and seemed to be truly enjoying his time in the air both during rehearsals and the final event in front of the President and his entourage.
Flying 10 K-8E Karakorum jet trainer aircraft, the “Silver Stars” had the VIP guests as well as the friends and families at the event looking skywards in awe. And when the coloured smoke was turned on, magic happened.
With the setting sun as a backdrop, the “Silver Stars” start their routine. The 10 K-8E Karakorum jet trainers that they fly are highly manoeuvrable and make flying look effortless.
The picture on the banner attached to the parachutist is of Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi. Since 2014, this Egyptian politician and retired military officer has served as the sixth and current President of Egypt.
Following the Revolution of 1952, the Egyptian free officers retained the flag of the Kingdom, but also introduced the Revolutionary and Liberation flag of red, white, and black horizontal bands, with the emblem of the Revolution, the Eagle of Saladin, in the centre band.
What do the colours on the Egyptian flag represent?
Red: Red represents the sacrifices and blood of Egyptian martyrs
White: Symbolizes peace, black stands for the dark period of occupation, and the eagle represents strength and power.
The Eagle: That can be seen in the centre of the white horizontal stripe represents strength and power.
Black: Stands for the dark period of occupation.
The final air show as seen from my hotel room window. The heart was made by the team and the solo flyer added the heart.
What a way to end the aerial display and my stay in Cairo.
I was packing while watching this and getting ready to leave for the airport and my return flight.
I would like to thank all those whom I came into contact with during my stay and who were instrumental in making my time in Cairo the memorable experience that it was.
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