In April 2018 we travelled to Indonesia for the 72nd anniversary of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU). Since it became apparent just before departure that this was in no way going to be as rewarding as hoped for we were happy that we advised the potential participants not to join us.
4Aviation is constantly looking for new interesting destinations to organise a tour. This sometime means we have to explore the location before going with a group. Early April 2018 we had scheduled a visit to Indonesia for the 72nd Anniversary of the Indonesian Air Force (TNI-AU Tentara Nasional Indonesia-Angkatan Udara) on 9 April.
Every year, this event held at the combined military/civil airport south of Jakarta, Halim-Perdanakusuma. Usually there is a flypast/defile on the 9th itself and this year also an airshow was planned in the preceding weekend. In the months leading up to the event we had been in contact with the public affairs office to get some information on the event. Only days before our departure we were notified that this year it would be a very limited event. There was a static, but this was not accessible for non-Indonesian people.
We had already bought our tickets and decided to go anyway to explore this event for possible future tours. Those that were planning to join us, but hadn’t bought tickets yet, were advised about the sitation and decided to cancel their participation. We situated ourselves in the approach of the eastern approach on Thursday 5 and Friday 6 April. Here we witnessed some operational flying from the based transport wing (B737s, CN235s, C295s, C-130s, Cougar and Panther helicopters and the Jupiter team with their KT-1s), and arrivals for the static show (Cessna Ce-182s, F-16s, Su-30s and T-50s). Light conditions are challenging as the sun swings around the runway around midday, and the sun is always positioned fairly high due to the proximity to the equator.
On both Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 April we re-contacted our contacts about possible access to the base, but this was not allowed. On these days only the Jupiter team flew, so there was no use in staying near the base. We enjoyed ourselves at a couple of nice museums and other sights and sounds of the busy city of Jakarta.
On Monday we tried our luck again and noticed there was no airliners activity. Late morning the Jupiter team again took the skies and gave a great performance. Then, without any warning, a Victor formation of nine F-16C/Ds came from the west with high speed and performed a ‘bomb-burst’ manoeuvre above the eastern end of the runway, together with several Vipers shooting flares. This was followed by a single ship flying low and fast also heading for the skies with a show of force, afterburner and flares. A couple of minutes later five of these greatly camouflaged aircraft landed, signalling the end of the military activities. The airliners started to pour in and there was no more sign of military aircraft.
Our trip to Indonesia was a great learning experience, but, of course, we were heavily disappointed by the absence of a real airshow, flypast and exclusion of foreigners for the static show. We will stay in touch with the Indonesian authorities and will try to arrange a tour for the 75th anniversary in 2021.