Info - Eurofighter flying over UAE: how to arrange an iconic air-to-air photo shoot

Dubai Air Show 2011; Clear blue skies, an RAF Typhoon, a Spartan C-27J, the world’s most famous aviation photographer and a team of enthusiastic pilots and crew – independently, they are all incredible assets at an air show, but in combination, they meant the possibility of an epic photo shoot over Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s most iconic landmarks. The question is, how was it all made possible and what challenges did they face? The answer is an easy one; team work, flexibility, opportunity and a shared passion for the world’s most advanced multi-role combat aircraft.

One of the benefits of being a consortium comprising of four of Europe’s leading aerospace manufacturers is that at an air show such as Dubai, you have a wealth of capabilities under one proverbial roof.  As a result, Italian partner company Alenia Aeronautica provided a military transport aircraft in the form of a Spartan C-27J as photo and film platform, German partner company EADS provided an expert film crew, world-renown photographer Katsuhiko Tokunaga brought his selection of cameras and the Royal Air Force, straight from exercises at Al Dhafra air base in Abu Dhabi, brought a Eurofighter Typhoon.

Whilst we had all the ingredients and a fantastic opportunity for some great photos and video, it would not have been possible without the approval from Dubai and Abu Dhabi air traffic control, the UAE authorities and the UK government. Even when both aircraft were airborne, there was still uncertainty as to whether the aircraft had clearance in the air space entering Abu Dhabi. This was quickly resolved thanks to the good relationships the pilots of both the Spartan and the RAF crew have with air traffic control.

The flight passed along the coast of Dubai, over the Atlantic Palm, the World islands and then on to Abu Dhabi where both aircraft circled over the bold red of Ferrari world, the Emirates Palace and the spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. With some incredible images and video footage captured, the aircraft made the return trip to Dubai International airport, passing alongside the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa which measures 2,723ft. or 828m. The aircraft flew as fast as 180-210 knots and their heights varied from 2000ft to 5000ft.

The RAF Typhoon, piloted by Squadron Leader Bolton was “directed” throughout the flight by photographer Tokunaga whose expert eye saw him reposition the aircraft with simple hand gestures to achieve the best possible shots. The results were stunning.

See for yourself how the flight unfolded with a video documenting the trip. Attached are some images from the flight but go online now to visit our image gallery to download the images taken. The video can also be found in our video library: