The next morning (Thursday, 5 April) the taxi company agreed to have two minivans at the hotel at 8 am. Everyone was at that time outside, keen to go, but the taxis were nowhere in sight. Time for another phone call. With apologies the first van arrived 5 minutes later (now almost a half hour late) and the second one not long afterwards. After some negotiation the taxi company after that understood that for us “8 o’clock” really meant 8 o’clock, and it must be said they transported us in Marrakech with great service for the rest of the time. The entrance to the Marrakech Air Show was not more than a 10 minute drive, and after some arrangements were made with the responsible driver moments later we were at the entrance. A good preparation pays off, our arrival was expected and our press cards were already waiting for us. From the entrance to the Marrakech Air Show grounds (normally one of the military platforms of Megara airport), shuttle buses were available, but the 500 meters were actually just as quickly and easily on foot. Only a baggage and person check now separated us from the Moroccan Air Force and especially their aircraft. Not much later really the whole 4Aviation group was marveling on the static display (okay… not literally… but it was beautiful!) The Thursday and Friday were not public days so we had almost free rein without much public.
Of almost every (operational) type at least 1 example was on display in the sunshine. Two brand new F-16s dominated the static but also an F-5, Mirage F1, two Alpha Jets and several helicopters coloured the platform quite beautifully. The Gendarmerie had spared no expense either with four helicopters and a Turbo Trush. Perhaps the oddest duck in the bite was an US Army UH-72A Lakota helicopter, at first sight from Grafenwöhr in Germany but it was in reality from Fort Polk, Virginia. Probably they are eager to sell this type to the Moroccan Air Force. The expected bad weather had not materialized; on the contrary, it was simply a beautiful day with blue skies and white clouds! The 4Aviation group was eager to get started.
Actually, the biggest “problem” of the Marrakech Air Show is the sun in the photographers face during the flying display. For better light conditions it is advisable to be outside the airport at the opposite side of the runway. Normally this is definitely “not done” in Morocco, but during the Marrakech Air Show the authorities turn a blind eye and you can stand there without worries. After a call to the taxi company our two vans were soon waiting to take us to the other side. It took some time and effort for the drivers to understand where we wanted to go, but once there we were able to have a good look what could be the best location. Soon we came to a kind of rubble landfill between a cemetery and the wall of the airport, both from the ground and from the wall of the cemetery seemed to be a great place to photograph the fling display. First we were almost alone at this spot, but not much later we would be surrounded by the local youth who were not troubling or annoying, just noisy at times. At half past three the civilian air traffic was halted and the flying program of the Marrakech Air Show began. The French military Extra 300 was nice but it was of course not what we were here for. More to our liking was the bit messy helicopter demo consisting of four Gazelles, four AB206’s, three Puma’s and an AB205; the formation of a KC-130, Mirage F1, F-5 and two F-16s; a C- 130 performing a water drop, and a formation of four Mirage F1s. The local display team March Verte with their Cap 232s concluded the flying display, all in all no more than a good hour long. After that the civilian aircraft started flying again. It was decided not to return to the expo side but straight to our hotel. For the evening part of the group decided to explore the city while the rest decided to stay in the hotel and have dinner there. The city of Marrakech is an adventure on its own which you really have to experience yourself. Especially the central and always busy square, the Djemaa el-Fna, a UNESCO world heritage, and the countless adjacent winding alleys with shops (souks) give a lasting memorable impression. The escape of persistent street traders became a sport in itself, but it never was really annoying.