The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world’s largest independent military air show. A gathering of air forces from across the globe, the annual event draws crowd from all places to the sleepy town of Swindon, England. Flying is all day long, and one could book a seat at one of the stands right smack in front of the runway.
Asia lacks such shows, but after my trip to Langkawi last month, I see potential for LIMA airshow to become the Asian RIAT. While I had trouble squeezing news out from the LIMA show, what I felt that trump the Singapore airshow is its excellent location and access to the runway action.
The Langkawi airport is beautifully situated at the bottom of a ravine, both sides are lush mountains where the public have full access to without being chased away by the police. The community rally around the show, some selling unofficial LIMA products at their shops and locals even set up little food stalls to sell snacks and ice cold drinks for the crazy spotters who will spend hours under the sweltering sun. LIMA provides 360 view of the show regardless of the sun’s position of the day and wherever you might be.
The rather unrestricted airspace meant planes can fly lower, and come in from all directions. The ballsy opening show for LIMA 17 I think speaks for itself.
Singapore Airshow might be successful announcing the biggest orders in the region, but it seems too clinical and lacks certain excitement to journalists and avgeeks alike. Away from it all, the community don’t seems to be involved in it even if they wish to. The aerial display is set in the worst timing and there is certainly a lack of runway access.
The so-called LIMA Air Tattoo (LIMAAT) could be a preamble or epilogue to the LIMA airshow, when all the rah rah of exhibitors have left, its time for air forces and enthusiast to come together for an Asian air force gathering, no strings attached, just for pure fun.