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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Singapore Airshow 2008 Gallery

Last weekend, I went to Changi Beach to watch the aerial display of the Singapore Airshow 2008.

In previous years I used to buy tickets to view the exhibition, but the crowds are getting crazier every time. It's more enjoyable to "park" yourself on the beach with plenty of space to spare and watch the planes roar by.

The downside is that the aircraft do their more spectacular stunts near the exhibition site, so the angle from the beach is not so great for taking photos. To make things worse, the sky was overcast and hazy on both Saturday and Sunday, causing the photos to have dull colours.

Nonetheless, Fresh Brainz is happy to share with you some of my better photos on the airshow.

Here come the Black Knights! The F-16s from the Republic of Singapore Airforce display team sweep into view, heralding the start of the aerial display.

They were moving so fast that their initial appearance was completely silent, followed by the robust roar of six engines when they flew overhead.

Quite impressive.

Under better light conditions the smoke trails would appear white against a deep blue sky, but even in a hazy sky this formation looks magnificent.

A Black Knight pulls away, showing the underbelly of his aircraft. During the airshow we tend to see more of the underside of planes because it is more tolerable for a pilot to pull positive Gs than to pull negative Gs (which would force blood up into his head).

Negative Gs gives you the sensation that your eyes are going to pop out of their sockets and your brain is going to explode.

That's because your eyes are going to pop out of their sockets and your brain is going to explode.

Black Knight No. 5 flown by Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Chionh (better known as Zoe Tay's husband) makes a close pass for his solo manoeuvres.

On usual days he is sidelined by his celebrity wife, but on this occasion he is sidelined by his big, shiny jet.

Oh well, at least we can kinda see his helmet.

Pulling Gs! Condensation appears over the wings and behind wingtips as the pilot pulls up. Aviation magazines and websites love to take photos of aircraft with condensation over the wings.

It makes them look alive.

In fact, a veteran photographer on never takes photos of aeroplanes on the ground - he feels that they are not "aircraft" until they are in the air.

Pop the brakes! Aeroplanes also look alive when they deploy their flappy moving parts.

From the correct viewing angle these two jets are performing a mirror formation where one jet is right on top of the other.

From my "wrong" vantage point, they look a little too friendly to each other.

Keep your wingtips off my tailpipe!

To conclude a crackin' good show, the Black Knights show their appreciation for the audience with a big heart in the sky.

Can you see LTC Philip Chionh?

Neither can I.

After the Black Knights' performance, it's time for solo military jets to strut their stuff.

First up is the F-18E Super Hornet, a new and improved version with distinctive angular intakes. It has a lower-pitched engine growl than the other military vehicles in the show.

Truth be told I'm not a fan of the F-18, despite its combat effectiveness and widespread popularity. The aesthetics of this design doesn't appeal to me.

Next, the Italian jet trainer Aermacchi M-346 zips through the sky, with its unique "TV antenna" pitot tube. It's a nifty machine but the soft whine of its engines is completely overshadowed by auditory impact of other high performance vehicles.

The public wants "WHAM! BAM! THANK YOU MA'AM!"

More attention grabbing is the Korean T-50 supersonic trainer, which looks like an anorexic version of the F-16 with F-18-styled intakes.

It has a boomy engine. Men like boomy, subwoofer-sounding things.

Finally, the venerable Fighting Falcon, still a popular fighter after all these years. Futuristic when it first appeared, it is now a mainstay of many small airforces throughout the world.

After the military jets exit stage left, there was a brief pause.

Then in the distance, a behemoth appeared.

Super Jumbo at 12 o'clock!

The Airbus A380 floats overhead with incredibly quiet engines while retracting its landing gears.

What a change to see something so big and graceful - it feels rather surreal, almost like a huge toy made out of styrofoam.

Slow it may be, but the Super Jumbo is no slouch in the manoeuvring department. Here the massive passenger jet rolls right to turn on a dime, revealing its registration number: F-WWOW.

Yes, this is the first A380 that ever flew, still working hard to help bring in the dough.

Pulling Gs!?!! Condensation trails appear over the wings, streaming above the giant Trent 900 engines.

Rounding up the show is the team display by the Roulettes of the Royal Australian Airforce.

Here they come!

The use of turboprop aircraft in an aerobatic team has its pros and cons. The slower speed and tighter turn radius allows more spectacular manoeuvres, such as quick formation changes, but the lack of a boomy engine means that the public gets bored real fast.

Still, no matter whether they are jets or props, one move is always a crowd pleaser.

The head-on opposing pass that makes the planes look as if they are going hit each other.

A near-miss!

Or is it a near-hit?