report by: Mike Danks
My final 100th anniversary show was at Radom Air Base, Poland. On paper this looked to be one of the best European shows of the year. But due to two tragic accidents for the Polish Air Force and the Romanian Air Force the air show changed dramatically with regards to the air display.
The trip started with a visit to Deblin Aviation museum where, on our arrival, a 100th Anniversary celebration had just finished. Outside of the museum was a PZL-SW4 helicopter which was on static display for the celebration and was now being prepared to fly back inside the base fence. With a few directions from the ground crew of how far away we needed to stand from the departing helicopter, the rotors started to turn and it was soon ready to depart. A fantastic start to the trip but this would be the last time we would see the sun until we headed home on the Monday. Day two and the first day of the air show was met with overcast and drizzly conditions. Entering the show at the western end it was a long walk to the centreline and even longer to the end of the static park. The show began with multiple light aircraft and other stunt planes with the full show starting in the late morning.
The array of fast jets were trying their hardest to burn away the low cloud and drizzle. These included ‘Vador’ flying his F-16AM from the Belgian Air Component, the Hellenic Air Force ‘Zeus’ F-16, Czech Air Force SAAB Gripen, Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR.4 and the Ukrainian Air Force SU-27UB. A coup for the Radom air show was the Pakistani Air Force JF-17 ‘Thunder’. This aircraft was painted in a stunning Pakistani flag scheme. The JF-17 is a light weight’ single engine multi-role aircraft jointly designed by the Pakistani Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aircraft Coproration and was introduced into the PAF in 2011. These aircraft have seen combat in the North-western areas of Pakistan using unguided bombs and guided missiles.
Croatia’s ‘Wings of Storm’, Italy’s ‘Frecce Tricolori, Spain’s ‘Patrulla Aguila’ and Finland’s ‘Midnight Hawks’ all participated with their differing displays and aircraft types. The Polish TS-11 ‘Red and White’ performed their display and completed a flypast with a newly delivered Boeing 737MAX of Polish airline LOT. Although the teams were unable to complete full displays they did bring colour to the monotone grey skies.
The highlight of the static park was the Ukrainian Air Force Sukhoi SU-25UB Frogfoot. This aircraft looked resplendent in its digital camouflage scheme. The SU-25 is a product of the cold war in the same way that the USAF designed the Republic A-10 ‘Thunderbolt II’, to counter the threat from tanks and armoured vehicles streaming across Europe by either side. The SU-25 was first flown in 1975 and produced in large numbers and exported to multiple air forces across the globe. The SU-25 has been involved in multiple conflicts and wars including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iraq-Iran war and more recently in Syria, flown by Russian forces. The aircraft on display was from the 299th Independent Assault Regiment based at Kulbankino.
With the weather on Sunday being worse many display items were cancelled. The weather in conjunction with the two tragic accidents marred the celebrations of the Polish Air Forces 100th Anniversary. GlobalAirPower thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the two pilots from the Polish and Romanian Air Force.