Singapore Airshow 2018 – Asia’s Largest Aviation Event
The much-anticipated biennial airshow dubbed as “Asia’s Largest Aerospace and Defence event”, was held at Changi Exhibition Center from the 6th-11th February 2018. The first four days were reserved for trade which provided valuable networking opportunities for the global aerospace community, industry movers and shakers, government and military delegations.
Likewise, the airshow is the best launch-pad for start-ups to showcase their latest technologies and products to potential investors and customers. It also presents a choice avenue for fledgeling companies with access to the TOP 100 aerospace and defence companies, major airlines and government agencies around the world. To the general public, the airshow is a fun-filled weekend to enjoy exciting aerial displays and experience aircraft from various countries.
The event hall at Changi Exhibition Centre. Loads of the latest technologies on offer for the potential buyers. (Photo tip: bringing a tripod to the event may not be appropriate due to crowd situation, I supported my camera on a ledge and shot this at 1/40, F4, ISO500, Canon EF16-35mm F4L IS lens)
Just a section of the estimated 100,000 visitors during the public days, waiting for the commencement of the aerial display. (Photo tip: To convey how crowded the display site was, I used a long lens to aid in the view compression and shot this at 1/6400, F3.2, ISO320, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
RSAF 50th Golden Jubilee Celebration
This year event also coincides with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) 50th Anniversary, which commemorated this special milestone with the President’s unveiling the RSAF F15SG Strike Eagle in celebratory paintwork at the RSAF Pavilion. Many key ministers and air force commanders were also in attendance. (Photo tip: Famous people always have a crowd about them. To isolate the subject and avoid shooting paparazzi in the picture, I used a telephoto lens and shot at 1/4000, F2.8, ISO640 with Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
Republic of Singapore Air Force chiefs and commanders posing for press photographers during the unveiling event. (Photo tip: As above, to avoid including paparazzi in the picture and have a more candid feel, I used a telephoto lens and shot at 1/4000, F2.8, ISO640, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
An RSAF F15SG in the RSAF50 Golden Jubilee Commemorative livery paintwork. The air force has scheduled a series of exhibitions in various heartlands leading to National Day Parade 2018, where exciting aerial displays will be held for the public at the Marina Barrage. (Photo tip: To ensure picture sharpness of fast moving subject and using a long lens, I used high shutter speed. 1/4000, F4.5, ISO320, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The RSAF aerial team performing for the spectators. This is the first time different aircraft, i.e. the F15SG and F16C, were being used together in an aerial display anywhere worldwide. (Photo tip: I used a zoom lens to impart a closer feel of the flypast and shot at 200mm, 1/320, F11, ISO160, Canon EF70-200mmF4L IS lens)
Aerial Displays by RSAF and Foreign Air Forces
As always, the aerial displays are the crowd pullers at the airshow. However, it was the 1st time that this event, which debuted in 2008, witnessed the unfortunate mishap on 6th Feb, with one of the show’s favourite – the Black Eagles aerobatic team from Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF). Thankfully, the pilot involved escaped with minor injuries. The team withdrew from the aerial display consequently.
To capture both ‘standard’ and ‘creative’ angles of the aerial display, I visited the event over 3 days. “Standard” angle to me personally, are the usual composition of the planes in flight. Chances are “standard” pictures of planes in flight will look similar across most photographers shooting the same angle. Only after accomplishing the ‘standard’ pictures do I proceed to capture the “creative” angles by breaking away from the crowd and instead frame angles from different perspectives, frequently using planes on static display and people on the ground as composition ‘materials’.
The pair of RSAF F16C Fighting Falcons executing a loop during their aerial display. (Photo data: 1/3200, F4.0 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The aerial displays required months of intense practice coupled with tip-top precision and teamwork. At the speed the aircraft are flying, meters become inches. (Photo data: 1/6400, F4.5 ISO320, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The RSAF team performing a “Golden Salute”, a first-time ever with flares, during the finale of their aerial segment. (Photo data: 70mm, 1/1250, F4.0 ISO160, Canon EF70-200mm F4L IS lens)
A Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Sukhoi Su 30MKM executing its “aerial ballet” crowd-pleasing aerial stunts with plenty of flares. (Photo data: 1/4000, F5.0 ISO320, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
Certainly an aerial photographer’s favourite moment with the aircraft releasing loads of flares during its display finale. (Photo data: 1/3200, F4.0 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
Coming in fast and with plenty of tight turns was the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) JAS 39 C/D Gripen. One of the agilest fighters for close quarter combat. A combination of advanced aerodynamic layout utilizing a canard-delta configuration and a digital Fly-By-Wire Flight Control System (FCS) enhanced its superior dogfight capability. (Photo data: 1/4000, F5.0 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The Gripen, showing loads of flames from its afterburners and wingtip smoke trails. (Photo data: 1/1000, F4.0 ISO125 , Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
A USAF F16C Wild Weasel from the 13th Fighter Squadron – 35th Fighter Wing (Misawa AB Japan). Wowing the crowd with an amazing display of high-Gs turns and high-speed low altitude passes. (Photo data: 1/4000, F4.0 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The USAF F16 Fighting Falcon (nicknamed Viper) Wild Weasel executing tight aerial manoeuvres. Wild Weasel pilots are top guns in the air force. “Most pilots try to avoid getting shot at while they do their mission – a Weasel tries to get shot at so that others do not and so he can locate the SAMs/AAA and kill them before they get anyone else.” (Photo data: 1/4000, F4.0 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The iconic USAF B52 Stratofortress making a fly-past (only on 1 of the public days). It flew here directly from its base in Guam over a 9+ hours flight. (Photo data: 1/3200, F5.6, ISO320, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU) – Jupiter Aerobatic Team. Utilising 6 units of KT-1B Wongbee turboprop aircraft, the team performed many hair-raising manoeuvers that thrilled the audience. (Photo data: 1/320, F14 ISO160, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
Risky stunts that make a visit to the airshow worthwhile. The Jupiter aerobatic team incorporated several new manoeuvers that refreshed their display this year. (Photo data: 1/200, F9.0 ISO100, Canon EF400mm F2.8L IS lens)
The team pulling up in the skies with an F15SG at the static site providing a nice frame. (Photo data: 185mm, 1/320, F14 ISO160, Canon EF70-200mm F4L IS lens)
Static Displays at the Exhibition Site
The RSAF50 F15G in its ceremonial paintwork was a crowd favourite. Certainly when considering this paintwork will only be seen till after the national day and once in 50 years.
Possibly the most photographed hinds at the airshow. The RSAF F15SG exhausts looked powerful even when static.
Capturing military pilots with their machines are one of my fave framings at the static display. Sort of the machine with their ‘masters”.
At long last, two USAF F35B Lightning II makes an appearance at the static exhibition site. Model on previous airshows was only a mock-up. Together with the F22 Raptors, this corner was the highlight of the static segment.
The USA Flag flying proudly atop a USAF C17 Globemaster III. It is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft with capabilities for tactical airlift, airdrop missions and an operation range of 2,400 nautical miles without refuelling. The huge aircraft has a wingspan of 52 meters, a payload capacity of over 77,000 kilograms and a maximum takeoff weight of more than 265,000 kilograms.
The USAF E-3 Sentry. It is an “eye in the sky” command centre providing airborne early warning and control (AWAC). Certainly a force-multiplier in aerial warfare. Any airforce without one will not be in the position to defend their airspace, let alone engage in warfare.
An Embraer E190 E2 commercial airliner with head-turning tiger nose-art. This aircraft is manufactured in Brazil and the equivalent of Airbus A320 or Boeing 737.
The USAF Global Hawk,(RQ-4B) is a high-altitude, long-endurance, remotely piloted aircraft with an integrated sensor suite that provides global all-weather, day/night intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability. The Global Hawk provides persistent near-real-time coverage using imagery intelligence, signals intelligence and moving target indicator sensors.
The swept curvy wingtip of the Airbus A350 XWB. Beautiful and graceful even when not moving. The A350 is the first Airbus aircraft with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of the carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer. This is one of the quietest and comfortable airliners you will sit in.
Visitors checking out the airliners on display. This is one of the rare moments visitors can check out the aircraft cockpit, sit in the 1st or business class seats for the experience.
It was certainly an enjoyable experience covering the airshow, as I did for the last three airshows. It may seem just like another airshow with planes flying in the air or being displayed on the ground but on a deeper level, one gets to observe how technologies are evolving and impacting lives, how the aviation landscape changes and its implication on the countries involved. On a personal side, it also tested and reinforced my photography skill. Definitely look forward to the next airshow in 2020. For another aviation-related article, please feel free to check out here.
P.S- All pictures in the blog are copyrighted to Jensen Chua Photography and all right reserved (unless stated).