Aire 06,

Murcia-San Javier, Spain

3 and 4 June 2006



On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Spain's Patrulla Aquila Air Force Demonstration Team, San Javier air base opened it's gates over the Pentacost weekend of 2006. Situated some 30 km east of the city of Murcia the airfield houses the Spanish Air Force's academy, Academia General del Aire. The Open Days consisted of a static show on Saturday 3 June, followed by an air show the following day. The choice of location for the airshow was a bit unusual, but highly succesful; the beaches between Lo Pagan and  Santiago de la Ribera. This avoided having to look into the sun all day, although a few hours of backlight had to be endured on the beach. In this view, the Patrulla Aquila perform their bomb burst using smoke in the colours of the Spanish flag.


The sea front airshow was both a get-together of colleague aerobatic teams as well as solo demonstrations by most of Spain's fast jet types and helicopters. Of the foreign aerobatic teams, the Swiss Patrouille Suisse is the only one flying front line fighter jets, the F-5E.

After an absence of more than ten years, Portugal's Asas de Portugal is back. In earlier times, the team flew six Cessna A-37C's. Nowadays, the display consists of a pair of Alpha Jets, although at least four aircraft received this colour scheme. Here, the pair is pictured during a head-on pass during a very well flown display.

Another of the teams taking part in Aire 06 included the Portuguese Air Force's Rotores de Portugal team, flying a trio of Alouette III helicopters. The show consists of manouevres reminiscent of the Royal Netherlands Air Force's Grasshoppers team which was so succesful during the seventies and eighties. It was very good to see the old Alouette being put through it's pace in this manner. As you can see, the colour scheme is striking as well.

Helicopter demonstrations can be quite entertaining. Due to their slower speed, they tend to linger in the same area for longer. The Spanish Air Force's Ala 78, which trains helicopter crews from Granada-Armilla Air Base, raised a demonstration team as well during 2003. Known as Patrulla ASPA, the team flies five Eurocopter EC.120 Colibri helicopters. The team's solo bird passed close enough to the gibbous moon on 4 June for this shot to be taken.

Non-Spanish participants among others included this well-known Tiger coloured Mi.24V from the Czech Air Force's 231.vrlt based at Prerov. Unfortunately, the helicopter displayed rather early during the morning hours. Nevertheless, it flew some curves during one of which this picture could be made.

Spanish Air Force standard fighter; the EF-18A Hornet. In this view, C.15-90/15-01, the "boss bird" from Ala 15 at Zaragoza has everything out and down during this slow and dirty pass. The Hornet is the middle aged man among the good old Mirage F.1 and the youngster now entering service, the Eurofighter EF2000.

Spain has 87 EF.2000's on order and the fact that this jet has been serialled C.16-26/11-07, at least suggests that the type's service introduction is now well underway. In Spanish service, the EF.2000, known as Typhoon with the RAF, will partner the Hornet and replace the Mirage F.1,

one of which is seen here tearing along Lo Pagan's beach with one of it's overwing spoilers extended. The Ejecrcito del Aire still relies on the Mirage F.1M for multi role work. The type is based at Los Llanos near Albacete with Ala 14.

During the Saturday preceeding Sunday's air show, the aviation photographer fraternity were given the opportunity to whitness the air show rehearsals from opposite the runway, an opportunity greatly appreciated. 

In this view a Spanish Navy EAV-8B+ Harrier awaits it's turn to rehearse it's display over the beach.

An Austrian Air Force SAAB.105Oe rolls out following landing after it's display training. The Austrians are the only export customer for this Swedish advanced trainer. In years gone by, there used to be an Austrian display team on the SAAB, known as the Karo As. There is some history and experience in Austria flying this jet.


One of the aircraft visiting San Javier during Saturday 3 June was this Portuguese Dassault Falcon 50. Based at Lisbon International Airport, the Falcon flies on VIP duties with Esc 504. It's visit may have been associated with the presence of both Asas de Portugal as well as Rotores de Portugal however.

The AS.332B Super Puma below has seen action over Afghanistan with Spain's contribution to the ISAF stabilization force.


Aire 06 was billed as the largest ever air show in Spain. It also included the first ever enthousiast event in the country associated with an air show. All in all, Murcia-San Javier provided some very nice photo opportunities at something else than a concrete airfield platform and it's organisers are to be commended for the effort. The only negative point to be mentioned was the static display. Making descent photographs of the many interesting exhibits was made difficult by the presence of rather massive blue and yellow plastic barriers. Maybe, during a future occasion, some less obtrusive barriers or a more thoughtful lay out of those barriers will also enable better static photography. Otherwise; great show!

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink