After a long and exciting period, in which obtaining visa appeared to be troublesome, the group, existing of 26 people, was able to travel towards Libya on Sunday 4 October 2009. After our arrival at Tripoli International, we met our guide (mandatory for groups) and headed to our hotel in the city by bus.
After a long and exciting period, in which obtaining visa appeared to be troublesome, the Group, existing of 26 people, was able to travel towards Libya on Sunday 4 October 2009. After our arrival at Tripoli International, we met our guide (mandatory for groups) and headed to our hotel in the city by bus.
5 October 2009
On Monday 5 October, we drove to Mitiga (also known as Umm Aitiqah and Okba ben Nafi and as Wheelus AFB some time ago) relatively early. While waiting for our entry passes for the next four days, we were able to have a short peek at the static display. The view of several aircraft types of the Libyan air force was rather comforting; a Flogger, Fitters and a (withdrawn) Foxbat were present at least.
After entering the showground it showed that the flightline of the local 1023 (MiG-23) squadron also contained a number of Floggers. The attempts to get there were hampered by the security staff. This game of cat-and-mouse between visitors and the security would eventually become a red thread running through the tour. The personnel of the units of the Libyan air force at the air base appeared to be very cooperative, hospitable and eager to show what they had. The security staff, however, was instructed to send away those that were interested in time. The end result was that there was no official opportunity to visit the operational units and that all that ended up there in the end had outsmarted security.
Just after a Chinook had dropped some paratroopers, the air display was opened by a formation flight of two Floggers and a Mirage F1DD. The air show was, as expected, quite limited. The foreign contribution to the air display was limited to a M311, a Eurofighter and a Rafale. A the end of the day, some interesting shots could be made of the aircraft on static display. During the evening another diner was enjoyed in a local restaurant and the group ended up in bed at a very reasonable time.
6 October 2009
The Tuesday (6 October), was largely comparable to the Monday. The weather was great again and the flying display schedule was almost the same, although a couple of different aircraft took part.
7 October 2009
Because we would be in the area until Friday, and could also visit the show on Thursday again, the larger part of the group decided to spend the Wednesday with a touristic visit to the beautiful Leptis Magna. That part of the group that visited the air show again experienced the first of two public days. This meant, for example, that two Su-22s took part in the flying display and a Mi-14. Furthermore, the An-26s, An-32s and Il-76s flew quite a lot on this day. Unfortunately, the group also witnessed the crash of a MiG-23UB, killing both crew.
8/9 October 2009
The entire group headed for Mitiga again on Thursday. During this last day of the event, the air show as slightly altered again. In order to ‘up’ the experience of the flying display for the visitors, an L-39 was towed to the crowd to start up its engines there and the Mirage F1DD and Rafale ended up taxiing through the crowd on their way to their parking spot at the static display. At the end of the day (and therefore the event) a large part of the static display was towed away or decided to leave. This brought yet another opportunity to make very nice pictures.
On Friday morning, a satisfied group entered to bus that brought us to Tripoli International for our flight back to the Netherlands.