Author Archives: Jacek Siminski

We went to Germany to meet the An-225 Mriya, the world’s largest airplane

An-225 Mriya Stopped Over In Leipzig. And We Went There To Meet The Giant.

On Nov. 12, we visited Leipzig international airport, Germany, in order to have a closer look at the largest airplane in operational use: the Antonov An-225 Mriya.

Known under the NATO codename “Cossack”, the An-225 covered a route between Gostomel (Ukraine, homebase for the Mriya), Leipzig (Antonov airlines cargo hub), Doncaster and Baku.

Since both Antonov Airlines (using Mriya and the An-124 Ruslan cargo planes) and the Russian Volga-Dnepr Airlines company (operating Ruslan airlifters) are located in Leipzig (although the terminals are located in different parts of the airport), there is always a good chance of meeting at least one of the Antonov’s giants at the airport located in central Germany, to the southwest of Berlin.

An225 side

The Antonov An-225 has been designed at the end of Cold War. The main purpose of the aircraft was to carry the Soviet “Buran” space shuttle and parts of the “Energia” rocket on its back.

An225 landing

An225 ramp

At the moment, the sole existing example is used commercially, as an international cargo transporter.

Mriya is not the largest aircraft ever built – this title belongs to the Hughes H-4 Spruce Goose hydroplane, however, this aircraft made only a single flight. The Antonov’s name – Mriya – means “Dream” in Ukrainian language.

An225 closeup

The size of this aircraft is beyond anything one can imagine. For the sake of comparison, it must be noted that the cargo bay is longer than the distance of the first flight in history, made by the Wright brothers. Anyway, you won’t have a clear idea of the size of the Antonov’s largest airframe until you get an opportunity to meet it personally.

An225 and An124

Here’s the route the An-225 followed on Nov. 12 from Doncaster to Leipzig.

An-225 route

An-225 route (credit:

Image credit: Jacek Siminski

Air-to-Air with the Hungarian Gripens involved in the Baltic Air Policing Operation

Up close and personal with the HuAF Gripens.

Taken by Filip Modrzejewski, editor in chief of the Foto Poork website, these amazing photos show two of the Hungarian JAS-39M Gripen jets taking part in the Baltic Air Policing operation as seen from a Lithuanian C-27J Spartan.

The mission of patrolling the Baltic skies has been intensified by NATO since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis amid growing tensions with Russia. The main aim of the operation is to bolster and expand the air defense capabilities of the Baltic Republics (Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia), that are in possession of limited military inventory and unable to guard their sovereign airspace alone.


This rotation of the Baltic Air Policing deployment began on Aug. 31.

Hungary acts as the lead nation, operating its jets from the Šiauliai airbase, while additional support is being provided by the German Eurofighters, stationed – as usually – at the Ämari airbase in Estonia.


As Filip Modrzejewski told us, this photo-shoot was especially challenging, since the airspace was cloudy up to FL240, and the only gap between the cloud layers could have been found at 4 000 feet, where the pictures were taken.


The plan foresaw that the Gripens would be joined by the German Eurofighters, flying from Amari, however the Germans joined the formation briefly before leaving again for their deployment base where the weather was quickly deteriorating. The Luftwaffe’s jets were forced to return to Estonia at a supersonic speed!


Images Credit: Filip Modrzejewski (Foto Poork)

Polish Air Force F-16 jet collided with drone

Mid-air with an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for a Polish F-16.

According to the reports published by several Polish media outlets, on Sept. 15 a Polish Air Force F-16 fighter stationed at Krzesiny Airbase, near Poznan, collided with a small drone.

The mid-air impact, whose evidence was discovered by ground crews during the post-flight checks, exposed damages to the airframe protective coating and to the fuel tank.

The official version of the incident, given by major Dariusz Rojewski of the Krzesiny AB, is that the jet collided with an unknown aerial vehicle; damage assessment highlighted that the overlay of the Viper‘s fuselage and fuel tank (probably the CFT) were damaged. The Air Force refused to provide any further information.

With free, unregulated access to the UAV systems, incidents like this can happen. The Polish legislation assumes that the drone operator is always responsible for the flights conducted by the UAV.

Uncontrolled, unauthorized flights in no-fly zones around airfields are punished.

According to the Polish Aviation Law Act and the Polish Civil Aviation Authority, a person charged with causing an aviation incident may be sanctioned with 12 years of imprisonment, while sole flight inside the controlled airspace of an airfield, may face 5 years of imprisonment.

Polish media outlet Głos Wielkopolski notes that the only areas where drone are allowed to fly around Poznan include the Morasko, Suchy Las, Lubon and Komorniki regions, all of those are located far away from the Ławica (EPPO) and Krzesiny (EPKS) airfields.

As a consequence, any drone-related activity in Poznan is banned, even in the areas that are relatively safe, as Mikołaj Karpinski of the Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) told in an interview for Głos Wielkopolski.

Any legal drone operation would require an authorization from PANSA , and this authorization must be obtained at least five days ahead of the planned flight.

Polish F-16 Tiger Demo Display Premiere at Łask Air Base Open Day

Łask Air Base open day saw the first display of the Polish F-16 “Tiger” Demo Team.

On Sep. 26. 2015 we have attended the Łask Air Base open day.

Besides the Polish Air Force’s inventory (e.g. the F-16, MiG-29 or the C-130 airlifter) the static display  also featured the historic aircraft restored by the Grupa Archeo  – a group of enthusiasts gathered around the Łask base, restoring and maintaining historical aircraft, including the I-22 Iryda indigenous trainer, MiG-21 MiG-15 or the MiG-23 interceptor.

The dynamic part of the show was quite modest, even though it was the uniqueness of some displays to make the event extremely interesting.

The show began with the Artur Kielak’s display, flying the XA-41 aircraft. Being one of the best Polish aerobatic pilots, Kielak really pushed his propeller-driven airplane to the limit. However, it was not his display the most electrifying part of the show.

Next, a show of force was displayed by the F-16 jets stationed at the Łask base: a couple of jets performed took with full afterburner and then performed a “carousel” meaning that there was a series of touch-and-gos, each of which was finished or started – depending on the point of view – with an aggressive, high-g turn and climb. This was a very spectacular start for the military part of the show. It’s a pity that such element was not showcased e.g. during the Radom Air Show this year, because it really portrayed the power of the F-16 jets used by the Polish Air Force.


Among the displayed aircraft, the Polish Su-22 role demo team also performed a spectacular show, showcasing the abilities of the aging, but still capable aircraft.

Su-22 Lask

The display program of the Fitter team features some interesting passes,  with varied wing geometry, with one airplane flying in the landing configuration, while the other passes, within the same formation, with its wings fully swept back. The maneuver is not that easy to perform, since the speed overlap between the settings is quite small.


The third dynamic display, which took part during the show, was performed by the new Polish MiG-29 demo pilot – cpt. Bartek “Brawo” Kida. Adrian Rojek, famous for his vertical take-off during this year’s RIAT, did not fly on that day. The MiG display was spectacular, with a lot of flares launched throughout and a lot of afterburner used.


Unfortunately, Bartek Kida did not perform the famous tailslide, which is one of the most characteristic capabilities within the MiG-29 Fulcrum’s flight envelope. This was probably because of the low cloud altitude on Saturday, preventing the jet from performing maneuvers high enough to make the tailslide safe.


The Łask air show was also attended by the US Air Force C-17 Globemaster, belonging to the 105th Air Lift Wing of the New York  National Guard. The American airlifter performed a few majestic passes over the base, and it also showcased its rough field capabilities, by performing a short landing with the reversed thrust.

However, the most important and the most awaited highlight of the Łask Air Base open day was the long-awaited display of Polish F-16 demo team. The jet also flew during the Krzesiny Air Base celebrations two weeks earlier, however, that event was not open to the general public.


The Polish F-16 demo programme is very much similar to the Greek “ZEUS” display – however, this is not a surprise, since Robert “Bluto” Gałązka, the Polish pilot flying the F-16 demo, was trained by Georgos Androlukais and Emmanuel Andriakanis, who are the members of the Greek “ZEUS” demo team.


According to, the demo team prepared three variants of the display – high, low and flat. The flat display is the one  that is most difficult for the pilot, since during the 10-15 minutes of display his body has to cope with the g-load ranging from -3 to +9.5.


The minimum speed during the display is 115 knots, while the top speed attained by the Polish fighter during the performance reaches Mach 0.95. The altitude range for the display is contained between 60 and 5,000 meters. The display is said to feature a lot of flares, however, due to  malfunction of the countermeasure system, no flares were released in Łask on Sept. 26.

Cpt. Robert “Bluto” Gałązka has accumulated 1800 flight-hours so far, with 1300 hours flying the F-16. Since 2009, he was involved in 14 international exercises, including the Red Flag, NATO Tiger Meet (five times) and Frisian Flag (attended twice), as well as the NATO Response Force operations and the Tactical Leadership Programme.

Image credit: Bartek Nogaj/EPRA Spotters and Jacek Siminski

These Unique Photographs Show Some of The Coolest Radom Airshow 2015 Participants At Night

Have a look at these cool shots

The images in this post were taken at night after the Radom airshow 2015 had ended.

The author of the images, Wojciech Mazurkiewicz, working as a member of the Radom Airshow’s press team, told us that shooting the aircraft at night was extremely satisfying and quite exceptional: this is the first time in history such a photo shoot has been allowed.

Radom airshow night

Radom airshow night_02

After long negotiations with Lt. Col. Artur Goławski, the spokesperson for the event, Mazurkiewicz, along with the photographers of the press team, got the clearance to take the unique night photos. As it happens sometimes – not everything went smooth. In fact, due to a lack of communication within the chain of command, the guards securing the aircraft did not receive any information related to the photographers presence.

Radom airshow night_04

However, after 15 minutes, the issue was solved and the photographers were allowed to take the shots of the aircraft taking part in the Radom Air Show dynamic displays. Interestingly, only 3 photographers had a chance to take the night shots of the “sleeping” aircraft meaning that the images in this post are quite unique.

Radom airshow night_07

General public rarely gets up close and personal with the aircraft taking part in the flying display as these airframes are usually parked away from the audience area for safety reasons.

Radom airshow night_12

Radom airshow night_14

Radom airshow night_18

Radom airshow night_19

Radom airshow night_21

Radom airshow night_23

Radom airshow night_24

Radom airshow night_25

Image credit: Wojciech Mazurkiewicz