On Tuesday, 14 January, a group of enthusiasts was ready at Schiphol for our first group tour to Kuwait. In 2018 we had already sent a small advance party to see the possibilities of the Kuwait Aviation Show which resulted in this tour. Via a stopover on Istanbul-Sabiha, where we added a number of traveling companions to the group, we arrived in Kuwait after midnight, now Wednesday 15 January.
The situation in the Middle East was quite unsettled by the clashes between the United States and Iran. The downing of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737 at Tehran certainly did not help. From the organisation of the show it had been quiet for quite some time, so we were very happy that we saw different aircraft for the show from our plane, while taxiing.
Obtaining a visa was a bit sloppy, but went well. Due to the lack of decent minivans, we were forced to take no fewer than five rental cars and that naturally also takes a while. The ride to the hotel was short and the check-in went smoothly. But meanwhile it was already a few hours later and because we wanted to be on time on the opening day of the show, it became a very short night.
There was still time for a short breakfast, followed by a short drive to the show. Parking close to the entrance was not possible and we were sent to a large parking lot 1.5 km from the show grounds. There, shuttle buses drove us to the entrance from exactly 8:00 am. Today was the opening day and many dignitaries would visit the show, so there were slightly more security measures than on the other days. Through our online registrations we entered the airfield, but the place where we had to exchange it for real admission tickets could not be found, despite the fact that we had addressed every person of some significance. Also some information about the events of that day was initially untraceable until we approached a number of “guys” who had something of a flight program on their mobile. But that information was also not entirely correct.
When all the sheikhs had arrived and had taken their seats in their red velvet and gold leaf thrones, it could begin. Although much later than the announced program, but still. From the military ramp, two Kuwaiti F/A-18s took off, along with two Apaches, a Puma, and the Saudi Hawks. A Kuwait Airlines Airbus 330 arrived from the civil side. They took off and flew past in formation, followed by two passes from the Hornets. Apart from the Puma, the military visitors went back to their home base.
After this came a flashy flypast of a Lakenheath F-15E and two Hill F-35s, followed by a US Marines CV-22B and a full demo of an Italian Eurofighter. The flying part was closed with the Saudi Hawks. Thus the first day of the show came to an end we were able to take many nice pictures. However, it was now time to take the shuttle bus to the parking lot for the short trip to the hotel. There one of the participants had discovered a nice restaurant where we had a wonderful meal, and we also visited this place the for rest of the trip.