In 1909, the first preparations for the formation of what today is known as the Turkish Air Force, or Türk Hava Kuvvetleri. In 1911 the Turkish Aviation Commission under the leadership of Minister of War, Mahmud Shevket Pasha, was a fact. In 2011, the Turkish Air Force (TuAF) reached an important milestone as one of the first European air forces: its 100th anniversary. To celebrate that Izmir-Çiğli Air Base (AB) was the host for a big air show. The first since Turkey became a full NATO-partner in 2001. On the 4th and 5th of June 2011, the Turks impressed the gathered crowd.

The opening of the air show was a traditional one. From a C-160D several paratroopers were dropped. They glided down with the national flag and flags with images from iconic persons in Turkish history, including Ata Türk. On Saturday this flag parade was followed by a Military Inventory Pass (MIP). During this flying parade the TuAF showed its impressive air fleet. The MIP included the (R) F-4E, F-16C/D, KT-1, C-130H, KC-135R, C-160D, Cessna T-37 Tweet and T-38 Talon.
The program also included the best known European demonstration teams. In total no less than eight teams were present. Seven European Armed Forces were represented by the following teams: Wings of Storm from Croatia, Team Aguila from Spain, Team Iskra from Poland, Patrouille de France, Frecce Tricolori from Italy, the RAF Red Arrows and of course the Turkish Stars. From the United States Air Force the Thunderbirds performed their show.

The overwhelming performances by the mentioned demonstration teams were alternated by solo flying demonstrations. The Pakistani Air Force (PAF) showed its newest addition, the JF-17. The PAF also showed a F-16A. Italy had a big input with demonstrations of the Eurofighter Typhoon, the C-27J Spartan and an AMX. These aircraft and their pilots were all part of the Italian Air Force test unit, Reparto Sperimentale Volo, based at Pratica de Mare AB. Another highlight of the show was the Orange F-16AM from the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), flown by Captain Tobias 'Hitec' Schutte. During the preparations for this air show the TuAF asked the Dutch F-16 Demo Team for advice. The TuAF used the advice to establish their own F-16 demonstration team, named Solo Türk. The advice and cooperation with the RNLAF resulted in a very fine demonstration, flown by Major Murat Keleş. Solo Türk in return performed during RNLAF Air Force Days in September 2011 at Leeuwarden AB. The program was further completed by other flying demonstrations, like Ali Ozturk, a Romanian Air Force IAR-99 and a Saab 105ö from the Austrian Air Force.

The static show offered many special participants. Besides the aforementioned Turkish aircraft also aircraft from the Turkish Armed Forces could be seen, such as a CN-235M, AH-1P Cobra, UH-1H Huey and S-70B Seahawk. Besides these relatively older aircraft Turkey also showed some latest additions: the Boeing 737ES AEW&C Wedgetail and the unmanned aircraft Anka and Heron. The latter is regularly being used over the border of Turkey with Iran and Iraq and has a ceiling of 20,000 feet. Furthermore, two Jordanian F-16's (both former Belgian Air Force), an Algerian C-130H and a MiG 29UB, a C-27J and a PC-9, all from the Bulgarian Air Force, were present.

The TuAF has looked closely at several famous European aviation events and has learned the necessary lessons from annual shows like the Royal International Air Tattoo and the Air Force Days held by the RNLAF. Those lessons learned were not only put into practice given the presence of the impressive field of participating aircraft from a lot of different countries, but also the method of handling the vehicles from up to 250,000 visitors to Izmir-Çiğli AB, was perfectly arranged. No congestions at all. In addition, TuAF hired perfectly English speaking professional commentators. In conclusion, the show offered something for everyone. Not the least because of the lack of carnival rides and other non-aviation attractions, this air show was probably the best of the 2011 season to many aviation enthusiasts.

This article was also published in the magazine 'Onze Luchtmacht' of the Royal Netherlands Air Force Association, issue nr. 4, August / September 2011.