report by: Thierry Letellier
There were no restrictions at all in congregating outside the airfield to view the arrivals and practices.The local fields and roads became car parks and the whole scene resembled something of a festival. The weather started a little overcast and dull it improved through the day to end in a glorious clear afternoon and evening giving some stunning light for late rehersals.
There was a good collection of visiting statics – Austrian Saab 105, Belgian Herc, Czech C295 and anniversary marked ALCA, German Tornado (unfortunately a standard grey jet) and 100 years P-3C, Hungarian An26, Dutch F-16 pair with the Diana special, Romanian C-27, Slovak tiger Mig29UB and L410 and aforementioned Ukrainian IL-76 and Su27. Even the RAF got in on the act with a pair of 11 Sqn Typhoons and the 4 (AC) Squadron anniversary fin Hawk T2. The rotary winged fans as the hosts fielded a prolific selection of types – Air Force Mi2, SAR Mi8, armed up Mi17, SW4, camo W3RL Sokol, Army casevac Mi17, Mi2 Navy SAR W3W Anaconda and Mi14. A similar selection were lined up for the flying display – an SW4 (a further 6 flew in the mass flypast) and W3RL from the Air Force, a pair of Mi24V (plus two Mi24D spares) and W3W from the Army and a beautiful SH-2G Seasprite resplendent with special sea dragon stickers on the Port side.
The home team also provided a very impressive mass flypast to formally open the event – after some parachutes, Team Iskry laid down the national colours in smoke, followed by six PZL SW4 Puszczyk (Tawny Owl) helicopters, then Orlik team trailing white smoke that disturbed photographs of the following three-ship of Bryzas, C-130H with two C295s and the heavy metal element of six smoky Su22s, six even smokier MiG 29s and finally six F-16s. Further pairs of F-16s and Su22s featured in a close air support demo.
Foreign fast jets comprised a good mix of common solo displays – Austrian Saab 105 – Polish Mig 29 with flares, Czech ALCA, Romanian single-seat Lancer C Czech (tiger finned) and Hungarian Gripens, Rafale -Italian Typhoon (a borrowed 36 Stormo example being subject to RSV handling) and a quartet of F-16s – Belgian ,Dutch, Turkish and Greek. “Stitch” in the Dutch F-16 provided another great performance.
Solo Turk was fabulous as ever and it was good to see the Americanised Zeus solo Greek display on his only foreign trip. I haven’t included the Ukrainian Su27 in the fast jet category as this was flown in typical Flanker style at a fairly slow pace that demonstrated the sheer power and handling of this wonderful jet extremely well. The Friday practice was flown in the single-seater whilst both actual displays featured the two-seat UB with the rear seat occupied. The remaining display items consisted of the solo Croatian PC9, ever impressive Italian C-27, beautifully flown Red Bull Corsair and almost aerobatic M-28 Bryza from PZL-Milec.
In conclusion, despite some little problems with the weather conditions during the week-end. It will remain as a very good trip.