National Day 93: Close Encounters with the Saudi Stars

National Day 93

Close Encounters with the Saudi Stars

Report and photos by George Karavantos

February 24, 2024

Accepting an exclusive invitation by the Royal Saudi Air Force, APD via George Karavantos attended the National Day celebrations of the Saudi Kingdom and was privileged to take part in an aerial photography of the ‘Saudi Stars’ performing an aerial parade over the city of Jeddah.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrates every year its annual National Day by holding several events throughout the country. This day marks the unification of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia which was once known as the Kingdom of Nejd and Hejaz. On September 23, 1932, by virtue of a Royal decree from King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, the change of name took place.

For the past five years the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has taken a very active role in these festivities by organizing aerial parades which involve several other acts from different aircraft types of its inventory. These aerial parades last around ten days and they take place over the bigger cities like Jeddah, Riyadh and Al Khobar. Four aircraft, which represent the four types of its inventory, receive a special decoration each year.

In 2021 the selected paint scheme was a stunning black painting with some green tones. Last year was a three tone grey matrix one and this year an all green livery with gold eagles and wings on top! Apart from the four specially painted fighters, RSAF utilizes many other aircraft in its inventory like tankers, helicopters, transport aircraft and of course Saudi Hawks, its aerobatic team.

This year was the second time that the RSAF presented its newly established solo demo Eurofighter Typhoon which displayed in front of the crowd over the coastline in the center of Jeddah city and over the city of Riyadh. In the last three years all the airline companies of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have also taken part in these parades, including B787s and B777s from Saudi Airlines along with A320s from Flynas and Flyadeal.

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George Karavantos
Photojournalist at Aviation Photography Digest
George Karavantos is from Athens, Greece. His love with military aviation started at the age of 10 when he accidentally read a Greek aviation magazine. Since then, he never stopped reading about fighter aircraft and taking photos of them. He was too tall to become a fighter pilot, so he became an airline pilot. Nowadays he is a Captain and a Flight Instructor on the A320 aircraft. Despite his profession, military aviation will always be his obsession.
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