Seoul, you heartbreaker!
The Seoul Air Show took place from 20-25 October, returning to its usual location at Seoul Air Base (also known as K-16 from Korean War days) to the south of the national capital.
The venue had been forced to move two years ago as the main runway was realigned. The reason for that? Wait for it, because the aircraft approach had to be altered to avoid a theme park!
While it was good to be back at the event, this year’s Seoul Air Show was something of a heartbreaker. Not through any fault of the organisers, mind you, but because of environmental conditions.
Every year the Korean peninsula is afflicted by the ‘yellow sand’ phenomenon. Dust originating from Mongolia and northern China sweeps eastwards via prevailing winds.
This is obviously no good for aviation enthusiasts, however, as demonstration flights were either cancelled or, if they did occur, the photographic conditions were marginal bordering on ridiculous.
The air was so poor that it was actually triggering the smoke detector in my hotel room when I left the window open!
While there was a large contingent of aviation photographers from the usual suspect countries such as the Netherlands, there was disappointment all around as many display flights were cancelled.
Those flights that did occur were limited in appeal because not many aircraft participated. With most Republic of Korea Air Force requirements already decided, there were few compelling reasons for foreign aircraft to appear.
Of greatest interest was a pair of USAF F-22 Raptors and an RAF A400M Atlas a long way from home.
Surprisingly, there was no Surion helicopter present, despite KAI supposedly set to commence a global marketing campaign. A curious omission.
Even if the aircraft action was a bit thin, there were lots of interesting things inside the halls. There were UAVs, UAVs, helicopters and more UAVs, for example. The Republic of Korea Army put on an impressive demonstration each day in an outside arena.
In-service vehicles such as Hyundai Rotem K2 and K1A1 main battle tanks, the Doosan DST K21 infantry fighting vehicle and Hybrid Bi-Ho antiaircraft vehicle, Chunmoo MLRS, Hanwha Techwin K9 self-propelled howitzer and early examples of the Kia Motors Light Tactical Vehicle (LTV) all strutted their stuff in the dusty manoeuvre area.
All in all, if you were an aircraft lover that paid for air tickets all the way from Europe, the show shattered souls. If you were a vehicle lover, on the other hand, there was plenty to appreciate!