- Associated Press - Friday, August 3, 2018

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) - Thousands of Romanians gathered at an airfield on the edge of the capital, Bucharest, for a weekend of aerobatics and air power offered by more than 200 pilots and 150 aircraft from multiple countries.

The thundering noise of jet engines was heard across most of the city as participants in the Bucharest International Air Show 2018 started their practice runs.

The star formation of the show was the “Turkish Stars” unit, a team of eight NF-5 supersonic fighter planes. The pilots of Turkey’s national aerobatics team entertained crowds with complex maneuvers during which the red-and-white planes, carrying the signature of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, on their fuselages, often flew within a meter (3 feet) of each other.

The Swedish-made Saab JAS-39 Gripen, flown by pilots of the Czech and Hungarian air forces, was the star of the solo demonstrations, with stunning displays of maneuverability both at low and high speeds. The Gripen was considered by Romania’s air force in the bid to bring its fleet to NATO standards, but the U.S.-made F-16 was eventually chosen.

A Spanish Air Force F-18 demonstration, along with Romanian Air Force F-16 acrobatics and the Czech Flying Bulls team, were also crowd favorites.

The United States offered only static displays, showcasing an AWACS early-warning flying radar aircraft and two F-15 fighter jets.

Thousands braved scorching heat to attend the show, which ended with spectacular pyrotechnic effects during a demonstration of a vintage aircraft formation dubbed The Hawks of Romania.

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