report by: Thierry Letellier
Thousands of aviation enthusiasts came from across Europe towards south-east Hungary during the first weekend of August to participate to Kecskemét Airshow 2013. Since 2010; the previous show had been regarded as one of the best in Europe, and with the promise of Eastern European exotica.The Russian Knights (or “Russkiye Vityazi”), flying five Sukhoi Su-27 Flankers, rarely appear outside of Russia and are notoriously unreliable at attending shows for which they have confirmed participation. A great relief feiling occurred when local Hungarian spotters confirmed their arrival on the Wednesday before the show. First to arrive was a trio of Sukhoi Su-22 Fitters from the Polish Air Force. . The Bulgarian Air Force brought a smartly camouflaged Sukhoi Su-25UBK Frogfoot operated by the 1st Ground Attack Squadron from Bezmer Air Base, as well as a C27J Spartan as support. Adding to the static was a Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi Su-27UB Flanker, originally hoped to be flying, but unfortunately relegated to static due to safety concerns.
Unusually for Kecskemét – which was previously home to the Hungarian MiG-29 fleet, the only operational MiG-29 Fulcrum on display was a static example from the Slovakian Air Force (albeit a two seater MiG-29UBS in a fetching grey tiger scheme). . These were supplemented by a Romanian Air Force IAR-330L Puma and Slovenian Air Force Bell-412. Perhaps the most striking aircraft in the helicopter static was a German Navy Seaking Mk.41 (89+55) painted in a special scheme to mark the hundredth anniversary of the German Navy Air Arm.
Flying Display: The first jet action came in the form of a beautifully restored Soko G2 Galeb. The Italian Air Force took to the air in a red and white Coast Guard Search and Rescue (SAR) AgustaWestland AW139 for a short demonstration. Then an Alenia C-27J Spartan from Reparto Sperimentale Volo (RSV) was up to its usual aerobatic tricks, as were the always stunning Frecce Tricolori, whose late afternoon display slot resulted in some lovely pictures. The Turkish Stars’ six Northrop F-5As that adapted very well to the venue. The opposition passes were followed by tight turns over the crowd that added excitement to a frequently seen display.
Then Eastern European solo jets took the air; the Polish Air Force Su22 pair displayed the character of the aircraft excellently, and it was therefore disappointing when one of the aircraft had a technical fault on the Sunday. However, the highlight of the solo jets was the rarely seen MiG-21 LanceR of the Romanian Air Force. The short and stubby MiG-21 with its small delta wings was a mainstay of Soviet Bloc air arms but the majority have now been retired. The Romanian example carries a stunning green and brown camouflage scheme and a dark blue underside and the display showed this off perfectly.. . Despite disappointments such as the cancellation of the Ukrainian SU-27 display and Slovakian MiG-29 display, it was still one of the best shows in Europe this year for enthusiasts wishing to see Russian hardware.
To conclude , I must confirm that I had the same feeling that many people; the excitement of those many displays and the great static diversity will make the difference with other airshows in western Europe. May we expect another edition of Kecskemet Airshow in the next few years!