LANGKAWI: After a four-year hiatus, the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) has made a comeback this year with its 16th edition, bringing joy to Malaysian fans and foreign visitors.

There was great excitement in the air on the first day the aerospace segment is opened to the public today as visitors were seen queuing since 7.30am to enter the grounds of the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) to witness the air shows and visit the exhibition booths.

Mohamed Ali Zahari Al-Hafiz, a self-proclaimed die-hard fan of LIMA told Bernama that he always looked forward to the biennial event to witness the aerobatic manoeuvres of his favourite team, the Russian Knights.

The 46-year-old teacher from Taiping, Perak said he was disappointed when the event was cancelled in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, adding he and his family had been loyal visitors to the event since 2011.

Checks revealed fans of the event were unfazed by the scorching heat and showers experienced on the island.

South Korea’s Black Eagles began the one-hour aerobatic performance followed by Indonesia’s Jupiter, SU-300MKM Flanker (Malaysia), Russian Knights (Russia) and F/A-18D Hornet (Malaysia ).

LIMA’23 kicked off on May 23 for trade visitors until yesterday and is open to the public beginning today until tomorrow (May 27).

Meanwhile, Gregor Verstraelan, 45, a first-time trade visitor from Germany said he was impressed with the number of people visiting the event.

“I enjoy being here and it is my first time experiencing LIMA after its halt due to the pandemic and it is very good to see everyone with their families can enjoy themselves and spend time with each other,“ he said.

Another visitor, Joshua Lim Kok Hua, 31, said that LIMA’23 was the best destination for him to spend time with his family as well as enjoy the beauty that is Langkawi also known as the Jewel of Kedah.

“It’s great that I can bring my family here to see the unique exhibits and we can also expose them to the cultures of people who are not from our country,“ he added.

Hamzah Osman, 60, a part-time reporter for a local media agency who has covered LIMA 16 times since the first event in 1991, said that although the atmosphere was different from his previous experiences, this year’s response was still very encouraging.

“The (LIMA ‘23) show is really interesting, especially with the participation of great aerobatic teams and since Day One even from rehearsal day, people have started ‘camping’ in strategic places to watch them, such as Bukit Pemandangan Indah, in front of the Langkawi Police Training Centre (Pulapol) and many more strategic spots.

“And when it was announced in advance that the aerobatic team would participate in LIMA, the public was thrilled in anticipation... as it was proven to be on this open day for the public, the road was congested up to five kilometres, we also saw people queueing up since early morning just now,” he said.

Osman, who lives and works on this resort island, said that locals indeed looked forward to the organisation of LIMA, as the international event opened up various income possibilities for them.

“LIMA always brings an economic boom to the local populace, so when there was no LIMA held (as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021) their income was affected,” he said.

The organisation of LIMA’23 this time involves two ministries, namely the Ministry of Defence (defence sector) and the Ministry of Transport (commercial sector). - Bernama