Aircraft lined up for the sixth Al Khor Fly-In at Al Khor Airfield, yesterday. (Abdul Basit)
BY RAYNALD C RIVERA
DOHA: The sixth Al Khor Fly-In took off to a colourful start yesterday with hundreds of aviation enthusiasts thronging the Al Khor Airfield to see around 40 diverse aircraft from Qatar and other GCC countries.
“This year’s Al Khor Fly-In is bigger than the previous edition in terms of the number of participants and visitors,” Khaled Al Khater, Vice-Chairman of Al Khor Fly-in Organising Committee, told The Peninsula.
The aeroplanes flew in from various countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, just to participate in the much anticipated event, according to Al Khater.
“We expect around 4,000 visitors until tomorrow,” he said, adding the event which focuses on general aviation is a good platform for pilots and the public to interact and promote awareness among young people about the sector.
Fuad Dashti, the lone participant from Kuwait who has been regularly coming for the event, expressed satisfaction over improvements this year.
“I’ve been participating for the last four years and every year it is becoming better and better,” said Dashti, who has been flying for the last 35 years as a hobby.
“Since I was a kid, I had a great interest in becoming a pilot. My father wanted me to be an engineer, not a pilot, but while I was studying to be an engineer in the US I enrolled in a flight school,” he said.
His Beechcraft Baron G58, a twin-engine aircraft, is a crowd-puller being one of the largest displayed at the exhibition. Visitors, mostly families with children, took photos beside and inside aircraft.
The most exciting part of the event, however, is the air tours wherein for a minimal fee of QR200, a person can enjoy a 10-minute exhilarating ride aboard a microlight aircraft.
There are about seven microlights which are available for the rides and children who wish to take the tour should have parental consent.
“It was fun. The cockpit was open so I could feel the wind which made it thrilling,” said American Academy student Yash Joshi who was one of the first to try the ride.
With his father who is a pilot, Joshi had enjoyed such rides in other types of planes back in his home country, but it was his first time to fly in a microlight.
“My dream is to be a commercial pilot because flying gives a feeling of being free and makes one appreciate nature and human achievements in getting into the air.”
Today, the event being held under the patronage of Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, starts at 9am and ends at 4.30pm and features group and remote control flying and competitions for visitors.