• Morgan Fagg

I feel the need, the need for an F16 (E.P.F.)

Updated: Sep 5, 2019

Today is aviation day which seems like an appropriate time to talk about the opening of the European People's Festival and Eurofestival Village. The Euro village was within the greater confines of the enormous Expo Facic grounds.

A bi-plane did loop to loops as the parade came to an end with smoke fuming out as it did impressive spins like it was stalling and falling. Within the village, I noticed a sonic boom as what looked like a F16 Fighting Falcon shot by overhead. Than I saw another one. Loud but not actually breaking the sound barrier I'm sure, they were impressive.

As an aviation enthusiast it was easy to identify the large air scoop under the single engined jet fighter with its distinctive bubble shaped glass canopy. I was surprised just how intimate and familiar I was going to get with the F16 over the course of the week.

Queueing up to climb into the multi-million dollar jet took time and fortunately for me, the Portuguese pilot was good enough to take my picture as I made sure not to pull the ejector's seat PULL sign between my legs.

On three separate occasions I queued to photograph some friends inside the F16. They all had a need for speed and when Paul Cooley was waiting for his turn in the fighter, Andy Lowbridge and Paul got some interesting insights into the idle fighter jet and the training Portuguese pilots go through to to fly the planes we saw going supersonic at the opening of the Expo.

Paul and Andy were very familiar with jumping from the antique Aérospatiale Alouette III helicopter on display inside the Expo hanger but the F16 Fighting Falcon was a real treat.

While the boys in green regaled me with tales of their time in the army, Maverick Louise Eliffe claimed the fighter-jet as her own when she planted a tri-colour flag on the American made Portuguese plane.

While I was happy to quote Top Gun all week especially with the release of Top Gun II, The F16 is a single engined jet fighter unlike the F14 jets used in the original film and the F18s used in the sequel.

Tom "Tomcat" Cruise unlike his Top Gun co-stars such as love interest Kelly McGillis seems to be ageless. Seriously have you seen Val Kilmer these days?

I don't know about Val Kilmer but one of the Danish guys did bare a sticking resemblance to Iceman.

Just like the immortal Tom Cruise, the F16 began life shooting down MIGs in the mid 80s and has remained in active service even if the airplane in exhibit was apparently never used but bought as a museum piece. It might explain why the single engined fighter's motor was in a separate exhibit at the rear of the fuselage.

TOPGUN T-shirt: He is still dangerous but he seems to have found his wing women.

The A/F18E used in Top Gun II developed out of the YF16's competitor the YF17 but the F16s appeal to nations across Europe and the Middle East is the bang for your buck that you get by only using one engine to hit Mach 2.

Aviation Day honours the birthday of early American manufacturer of airplanes, Orville Wright as well as the progress that has been made since the Wright Brothers historic flight at KittyHawk, North Carolina, in 1903. President Roosevelt proclaimed August 19 as Aviation Day in 1939.

MISSILE LOCK: A masked mannequin stands in front of the F16 and the after burning rear end.

Irish Invasion: Louise the patriotic pilot invades Portuguese airspace.

HELL YEAH: Elya enjoying the jet set life from France to Latvia to Portugal.

Deutsch Dornier: Looking like a VTOL, this twin engined, twin seater stood in front of the Euro Village.

Check out this short video I took at the European Festival of the F16 on display.

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