TEKNOFEST 2019 – From the Spotter`s Vantage Point

Date: Issue 96 - December 2019

Teknofest Aviation, Space and Technology Festival was held between September 17-22 at the Atatürk Airport under the leadership of the Technology Team Foundation (T3 Foundation) and the Ministry of Industry and Technology and with the support of public and private institutions. Within the scope of the festival, 19 technology competitions in 44 categories were realized and 17 thousand 373 teams and 50 thousand competitors attended. 10 thousand competitors competed in the final. People from Turkey's 81 provinces and from 122 countries participated in the competitions. In the festival area, many local companies also introduced their products and capabilities to visitors at the stands allocated to them. Turkey's most well-attended festival, namely Teknofest 2019, broke a record this year and hosted a total of 1.72 million aviation enthusiasts, old/young, male/female, amateur/professional, needless to say, a wide variety of visitors participated in this incredible event that spanned a period of 6 engaging days.

Another prominent feature of the festival was the fact that it was the biggest air show in our country. Nearly 480 spotters applied to watch the shows. 60 of them were selected as permanent spotters and 60 as alternates. For the spotters, two towers were prepared in the show area, overlooking the runway and the taxiway. As in the previous year, the Turkish Armed Forces took part in the festival this year with broad participation.  The Air Force participated in the festival with the Turkish Stars and Solo Türk demonstration teams as well as with AS532, CN-235M, C-130B, C-160D, A-400M, KT-1T, T-38M, F-4E / 2020 and F-16C, Land Forces with CH-47F, S-70D and T-129B, and Naval Forces with P-235, ATR-72 and S-70B. The institutions of the Ministry of Interior also attended the shows. The Gendarmerie Command attended with the Çelik Kanatlar (Steel Wings) demonstration team with two S-70As and S-70, Coast Guard Command with AB-412EP and CN-235M, Police Aviation with S-70A and Bell 429. The Bayraktar Akıncı Armed Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (SİHA) was exhibited for the first time in the static area, the Turkish Aerospace’s Project National Combat Aircraft (MMU) and HürKuş drew great attention from the participants. Together with other participants, 40 aircraft were exhibited in the static area, while 23 different types of aircraft performed in various air shows.

The biggest surprise for the aviation photographers of Teknofest 2019 was the participation of Russian companies and the Russian Air Forces aerobatic demonstration team, the Russian Knights. Founded on April 5, 1991 at the Kubinka Air Base, Russian Knights is a team that performs mostly in Russia and does not travel abroad. Therefore, its participation for an air show in Turkey is very important. The team performed two shows at Teknofest with four Su-30SMs. The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) representing Russia at Teknofest was the biggest company in Russia. The participation of the company with MC-21-300, Superjet 100, Be-200ES and the star of the demonstrations, the Su-35S, was a significant indicator of the recent re-establishment of relations between Russia and Turkey. Thanks to its AL-41F engines having two propulsion-controlled nozzles, the Su-35S, flying by Sukhoi chief test pilot Yury Vashchuk, fascinated aviation enthusiasts with its short take-off ability and maneuvers challenging the laws of physics. The MC-21-300 - İrkut production, a company of UAC - impressed the audience with its maneuvers which were as good as the combat aircraft. The firefighting aircraft, that were on the agenda at the end of the summer due to forest fires, also participated in Teknofest. Beriev Be-200ES and Canadair CL-215 performed demonstration flights.

The air shows of the Turkish Stars and Solo Türk received a great deal of interest and attention from the audience, as usual. Solo Türk made a flight every day during the show and in a way hosted Teknofest. Personnel Search and Rescue exercises jointly carried out by the Ministry of Interior elements and the elements of Land Aviation were also unforgettable moments created for aviation photographers. The surprise among these exercises was the F-16C, providing close air support to helicopters as per the scenario. For this role, the pilot of Solo Türk's air show was Major Emre MERT. During his first-time performance ever, MERT received full marks from the audience. During the exercise scenario, low-altitude flares were fired to simulate the bombs released from the F-16. One of these flares caused the grass near the runway to flame up and the Airport Fire Department responded to the fire.

The show of Gendarmerie Aviation’s Çelik Kanatlar (Steel Wings) team with Land Aviation’s two ATAK helicopters, together and simultaneous, was truly breathtaking. Gendarmerie and Police helicopters and air vehicles of civilian flight academies conducted inspirational flights for the students. With these flights, 2,013 students had the opportunity to become acquainted with the sky for the first time. Within the scope of the air shows, a total of 825 landings and take-offs were performed including student flights; thus, a very entertaining event was realized both for the audience and aviation photographers. In the last two years, both Teknofest and the Eurasia Airshow have made a great leap forward in this field. With each passing day, there is increasing interest in air shows and in aviation photography. We, as aviation photographers, are very happy to see such organizations in our country, those that are equivalent to similar air shows in the world.  Up next for Turkey is the Eurasia Airshow 2020, which will be held in Antalya on April 22-26, 2020