Malta International 2023


Luqa Airport and St Paul’s Bay, Malta 23-24th September 2023

Report by Peter & Kim Davison

This biennial gathering on a Mediterranean island was disrupted by Covid so had not been held since 2018; hence the local population was ready and waiting in large numbers, particularly with advanced notice that the RAF Red Arrows would grace their skies. With the commercial airport now busier than ever, particularly with low cost carriers, only the static display was held at the airport with an afternoon flying display to the north at St Paul’s Bay providing a free show for coast lovers. Sadly, due to extreme winds and concerns for a maritime rescue should there be an incident, the Sunday display had to be cancelled.


14 nations were reportedly in attendance. Apart from the Reds, who flew past the resort coast on arrival Thursday, the star exhibit was a sixty year old Boeing TC135 from Nebraska that dominated the static display, apparently the first time this specialist type had appeared outside the USA.


The show also provided an opportunity to showcase the assets of the Maltese Air Wing, rarely seen ‘off island’ with their rotary fleet and Islanders/King Airs. The local flight school was also on show having upgraded to Garmin equipped Tecnams though their Cessna singles were in the process of having Garmin cockpits retro-fitted.

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Rotary assets from Italy and the Netherlands highlighted the variety of roles helicopters play in and around the Mediterranean. Italy also showed an ATR-72 maritime patrol aircraft. Other large exhibits were an Antonov 26 from Romania and a Polish air Force C130E Hercules in a special livery.


Fast jets were in evidence to provide speed and sound. Poland exhibited an F-16 with an innovative solo display, competing well with Solo Turk. The Swiss Air Force sent two F-18s and the German Air Force two Eurofighter Typhoons.


Also on site near the static display at Safi was Medavia, an MRO company specialising in ATR and Dash 8 types. On the northern ramps there is a large Lufthansa Technic site that handles large Airbus types plus a new facility for SR Technics. It is not only the Maltese Register that is growing but also the facilities to support such operations.


A historical perspective came from Red Bull in Salzburg, Austria who sent their B-25 Mitchell and P-38 Lightning though the severe winds hampered their flight operations. Two ex-military Alpha Jets were also present from Red Bull.


Mention must be made of the organisers’ consideration for ‘spotters’ and photographers. From Thursday to Monday supervised access was available (for a fee) to some closer viewpoints though there were often long hot intervals between show arrivals with limited, or no, facilities beyond the access opportunity. The safety vested visitors even conducted a ‘FOD walk’ on the active taxiway – a rare opportunity.

Peter Davison

About Peter Davison

Peter Davison is an aviation author and editor from the United Kingdom.