Blasts ' and flares '' over Poland
Today many aviation fans may still think largest military airshows are being held on big powers territories, like as the US, UK and Russia. With Radom airshow - held on August 25th and 26th - this common belief may prove to be fully “has been”. At least for the last ten years, my experience is that best international airshows are in Central Europe, these being mostly Zeltweg, Kecskemét, and Radom, to name largest events. It is also true that to own my memory, Polish Air Force 2013 event was one of the largest gathering of NATO - Europe jet solo display teams ever held in a single airshow for the last 10 years. So it would be fair to list all of them : French Air Force Rafale, Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon, both Belgian and Netherlands Air Forces F-16 solo teams, brilliant Czech Air Force Jas-39 Gripen and L-159 solo displays, Romanian Air Force MiG-21 (!), and of course the excellent Polish Air Force MiG-29 solo from the Minsk Fighter Wing. This does not list the Polish Sukhoi Su-22 duo, since they flew as a duo, but were part of the jets line-up, displaying for the last time, since the Polish MoD has promised to replace all Su-22s with UAVs in 2015 …
... being best F-16 display I have ever seen and photographed in my global photo life.
Also heading that solo display aircrew list was Greek Air Force F-16 C Block 52+ ‘ Zeus ‘ team. Big thanks to ‘ Zeus’ for enhancing the sound level over the display line with a PW F100-129 engine, having far more thrust than those types of engines on other F-16 variants. It was also clever to provide a 360° photo pass circling all around the crowd. Luckily in the same event, we had the Turkish Air Force ‘ F-16 Solotürk ‘. There is no doubt, this three year old young (!) türkish Viper team receives my ‘ award ‘ for being best F-16 display I have ever seen and photographed in my global photo life. I hope the Turkish Air Force will appropriately read this report (sent from a french writer), these guys earning my admiration for being in the rare club of those shows putting all together all core ingredients - power, flares, colours and elegancy – in a single flying routine. Each minute contains a mix of both power and instants of gliding, always properly ending with lots of pyrotechnics.
Pulling so tightly and elegantly the Flanker in such a short square of airspace was awesome.
It is long years now, since I last gave ‘ awards ‘ on this website mag., and my special mention, also as the best display (ex aequo. with that turkish Viper…) in Radom, goes to Col. Yakovlevitch, from the Ukrainian Air Force 831 IAP at Mirgorod Air Force Base. He flew brilliantly a ‘ vintage ‘ Sukhoi Su-27. That display was the best ever I have seen with this first variant of the legendary Flanker, without doubts on my memories, since 1989. Pulling so tightly and elegantly the Flanker in such a short square of airspace was awesome. And as I always say, Flanker’s typical “ Tomcat roar mixed with a Fulcrum in the throat “ style, merits alone, travelling to the event. Interestingly, Yakovlevitch rehearsed on Friday evening with a solo Su-27. Then he performed two different “ touch-and-goes ”. Shooting him with a D4, he plunged straight into me into a beautiful slow dive, with landing gear down and airbrake up, flying very low towards the tip of the air base fence, tasking the runway. As watched inside my 300 mm lens, the perspective displayed the fighter even more lower than it really was, and so I felt the strange need to lay down on my knees while he was passing over me. Then its jet blast blessed me for long time memories. On public show days, Yakovlevitch flew the other Flanker flown to the event, a twin-seat ‘ 69 ‘ Su-27 UB with a second Colonel sat in the backseat. I guess this fellow was flying with him to check altitude in loops. This UB acts as the “official” display aircraft, as we saw this very ‘ 69 ‘at Kecskemét earlier three weeks before. But officially for safety reasons, the Hungarian Air Force display committee decided that ukrainians would not display, and so, ‘ 69 ‘ was grounded on the static park. Showing an opposite point of view, Radom display committee gave clearance to the ukrainians, and given the skills shown by the ukrainians, we would bet it will at last, fly at more air events next summers.
Shooting him with a D4, (...) I felt the strange need to lay down on my knees while he was passing over me...
A special mention is to be awarded to Polish Air Force Minsk Mazowiecki 23rd Air Base, 1 PLM squadron. Not only to Artur Kalko for setting the sky on fire with flares in a MiG-29 A that he tightly pulled, but to full 1 PLM guys for currently setting paint schemes on each of their unit’s MiG-29’s tail. The squadron is paying tribute to the greatest pilots of the Polish Air Force who fought with the RAF during WWII. Most of them were aces with 303 squadron, and they had a huge contribution to the total of german aircraft shot downed during Battle of Britain. 1PLM also inherits from flyboys traditions who fought under Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s leadership during the 1919 – 1921 Polish-Russian war. Today each Fulcrum should have received the name of an individual WWII ace or hero. French readers had a glimpse into this operation of Memory, with number 111 MiG-29 A, named after Miroslav Feric, as presented at Fairford last year : www.sky-lens.com/articles-reports-air-events.php?recordID=93. MiG-29 A displayed by Kalko was named under W/Cdr Marian Pisarek, and the pilot’s portrait is featured inside the tail. One individual hero on each Fulcrum’s vertical tail.
After all, it was a Polish Air Force presentation of order of battle to the people of Poland event. So a parade was set up, including 12 Su-22M4/ UM3K, plus 12 MiG-29A/UB, plus 12 F-16 C/D Block 52+. Also part of the display were representatives of all types of aircraft in service with the Air Force : Orlik Team (6 x PZL-130 Orlik), Iskri Team (6 x TS-11 Iskra), Mil Mi-8, Mil Mi-17, PZL Mi-2, PZL W-3 Sokol, PZL-SW4 Puszczyk, PZL An-28 and M-28 B Bryza, Casa C-295, and C-130 E Hercules. Interestingly, the first upgraded MiG-29 A delivered to Poland was delivered to the Air Force three weeks before. So long live the Fulcrum. Definitely we need that legendary Mikoyan twin-tails jet, to go forward with airshow line ups in the near future. Even if a gathering of four F-16 displays can take part in an event’s success.
The squadron is paying tribute to the greatest pilots of the Polish Air Force who fought with the RAF during WWII
Author would like to thank Radom airshow media team for their kindness and efficiency, and the aviation enthusiast community of Poland, so keen on providing clever advice and assistance to the French chap.