It would be easy to say that the Frecce Tricolori team tend to have their heads in the clouds more than their feet firmly planted on the ground.

Just 24 hours after touching down in Dubai, the team of 10 dare devil pilots - known in English as the three coloured arrows - took off to show the stunned crowds at Dubai 2001 just how good the Italians are at flying.

In their Aermacchi MB339 aircraft, the team reached speeds of up to 600 kilometre an hour.
And the crowd was captivated when the team pulled its two famous moves - one where a pilot falls from the sky like a leaf falling from a tree, and the bomb drop - which is where the pilots fall from the sky and fly outwards.

It is the team's third visit to Dubai. Every year, the Italians participate at 48 shows around the world, mostly in Europe and the U.S., explained Andrea Saia, the public relations officer.

And when they are not travelling, they are busy practicing their skills at a site near Venice.

While many young hopefuls dream of getting into the largest formation team in the world, not many do, explained Saia.

The requirements are pretty tough - not only do you have to be a captain with the Italian Airforce but you also need to have a friendly disposition.

"We need someone who is a good pilot - a professional - and also a good man, someone who is friendly," said Saia. "In our team we have almost 90 people and there are 13 pilots."

Usually 15 budding pilots try to get into the team, but only two make it. Training starts in September and by May, the newcomers are ready to spread their wings with the team - but only in the easiest position.

Within two to three years, they are then able to move up to more difficult levels and generally leave after four to five years. "If you are the leader you stay for a maximum of 10 years."

Practice and attention to detail is important in this line of work. The team was last struck with sadness 12 years ago when three of its pilots died in an accident in Germany.

"After the accident the safety rules of the Italian aerobatics team was reviewed and it became stricter."

Sheikh Mohammed receives a memento from Frecco Tricolori.© Gulf News
According to the organisers, Fairs and Exhibitions, more than 14,500 industry visitors have attended Dubai 2001.

It also received 150 official delegations from 52 countries, including representatives from the Bahraini, Omani and Saudi Arabian Armed Forces.

"I came to view the latest aviation technology and was impressed by both the products and services on display," said Mohammed Saeed of Oman Armed Forces.

A regular visitor to Dubai air shows, Saad Abdul Rahman of the Bahraini Air Force said he found Dubai 2001's delegations programme more focussed than previously.

"This time we had ample opportunity to talk to various exhibitors, to assess information on products. The quality of exhibitors was extremely high."

Hamoud Al Omary of Saudi Arabian Armed Forces said the show has proved itself to be the official industry platform for the Middle East.

"It gives us the opportunity to network with industry players from around the world. I have visited air shows in Paris, the UK and Singapore but there is no doubt that Dubai is the one which best serves our regional needs."

And yesterday, just like all the other days, everyone at the airshow - and several thousands more onlookers thronging the perimeters of the complex - trained their eyes upwards around 2.30 pm, when some of the world's finest aircraft took the sky.

From chalets to carparks, staircases to skyscrapers, the flying displays have left most of Dubai in awe.

During this time, when most people are eager to look at what is going on above, Dubai Police have also done a commendable job in managing to keep traffic flowing on roads around the airport area, and stop cars from double parking in busy car park areas.