EUROPE

Turkey's flying aces stun crowds at UK airshow

SOLOTURK, Turkey's elite demonstration flight team, tears through the skies at world's largest military airshow

Anadolu Agency

The Turkish Air Force’s demonstration flight team -- SOLOTURK -- has been the center of attention once again at a world-famous airshow being held in the U.K.

SOLOTURK, one of the world’s most-renowned flight demonstration teams, drew the admiration of thousands of visitors and aviation fans at the Royal International Air Tattoo 2017 (RIAT17) held this weekend in Fairford, a small town in Gloucestershire, England.

An Anadolu Agency team visited the airshow and accompanied SOLOTURK, gaining special access to some of Turkey’s top flying aces.

Described as one of the most prestigious air shows worldwide, RIAT17 is hosting flight demonstration teams from 100 countries.

With its technical and flying personnel, SOLOTURK relies on talent honed by years of meticulous training.

The team’s two F-16 Block 40 fighter jets arrived at a Royal Air Force base in Fairford last Thursday after a four-hour non-stop flight from their base in Konya, central Turkey.

The state-of-the-art jets were accompanied by a KC-135r tanker plane, which enabled refueling in the air.

The SOLOTURK F-16s were welcomed into U.K. air space by an international aviation photography team, the Aviation PhotoCrew, before making their way to RAF Fairford.

1st Lieutenant Emrah Bayri told Anadolu Agency the SOLOTURK team debuted in 2011 on the centennial anniversary of the Turkish Air Force.

This international debut at RIAT11 also saw the Turkish team win the King Hussein Memorial Sword -- the top award for best overall flight demonstration.

SOLOTURK, scheduled to make two demo flights at the show, made its first demonstration on Saturday after hours of precise preparation by a dedicated team of 11 air force mechanics.

The display began with a preparation phase by maintenance mechanics, all non-commissioned officers lead by an air mechanics officer.

This dedicated team prepared one of the two aircraft after checking and re-checking every inch of the powerful and fully operational high-speed machine.

After a final check by the pilot himself, the whole team was ready to display the abilities and courage of Turkish aviators.

Saturday’s flight, performed by Capt. Erhan Gunar exhibited extremely hard maneuvers, including a breathtaking slow flyby.

Gunar pushed the aircraft and himself to their limits, with G-forces ranging from plus-9G to negative-3G, thanks to the extremely powerful engine on the Fighting Falcon F-16C.

Spectators, fans and media members who filled special podiums by the runway watched the show flight with great admiration. The jet’s sharp turns and low flybys were accompanied by an energetic commentary which echoed around the airfield.

The overall demo flight was so effective that SOLOTURK’s publicity tent was mobbed by hundreds of fans of all ages, purchasing memorabilia and getting team posters signed.

The team will end its participation with a second demo flight on Sunday by the team's other pilot Capt. Serdar Dogan before returning Turkey the following day.

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