Monthly Archives: August 2018

Radom Air Show – Polish Air Force’s Centenary – A Birthday without the Main Guest?

Radom Air Show 2018 report.

Last week, on Aug. 25. and 26., the Polish Air Force celebrated its 100th Anniversary, during a special Centenary edition of the Radom Air Show. Even though the occasion was quite spectacular, the event left somewhat a bittersweet taste with the audience. The Polish Air Force, the celebrant who had his 100th birthday organized in Radom, was not fully present at the show. Due to the richness of the programme, the airshow had its flying organized from two airfields: whilst most of the display aircraft were taking off from Radom, some of the flying machines had to use a nearby airbase in Dęblin (home of the Polish Air Force Academy, which is the main pilot training facility of the Polish Air Force)

Most of the Polish fighter force – the MiG-29 and Su-22 fighter aircraft – have been grounded, hence they did not participate in the flying portion of the show. This is quite significant – Su-22s have been in service with the Police Air Force for 35 years, and the MiG-29 has been the prime fighter of the service  for almost 3 decades. Neither were present in the static display.

The Polish AIr Force F-16.

When it comes to the Polish presence, the honor of the service had to be saved by the aerobatic teams: Team Orlik and Team Biało-Czerwone Iskry – both of them staged a usual breathtaking performance in the air, with the Orlik Team making a double appearance, one with a regular program, and the second one in formation with the Harvard trainer aircraft, commemorating their being used as a historic training platform by the Polish pilots in the old days.

Team Iskra.

The fast jet community of the Polish Air Force was underrepresented, solely by the F-16 Tiger Demo Team stationed at the Poznan-Krzesiny airbase. M-346 Master trainers, known under the name ‘Bielik’ in Poland (white-tailed eagle), which also are the latest acquisition of the service, also made an appearance at the event, performing a formation flypast. Finally, the Polish Aviation Museum from Cracow brought the only surviving example of the P.11C pre-war fighter aircraft to Radom. The vintage airframe has had its engine restored and, being a highlight of the Polish portion of the show, performed a taxi run in front of the audience.

P.11C (Image credit: Michał Wajnchold).

The special treats, in case of the Centenary-related portion of the show, also included a formation flypast involving a PLL LOT Polish Airlines 737 and the White-Red Sparks aerobatic team.

LOT B737 and the White-Red Sparks aerobatic team.

The civil participants included aerobatic teams such as Cellfast Flying Team, 3AT3/Fundacja Biało-Czerwone Skrzydła formation flying team or Żelazny aerobatic teams. The program also included displays made by autogyros or a night display of paraglider team featuring pyro elements, closed the display on Saturday. Artur Kielak, on the other hand, performed his always stunning solo display routine.

The list of foreign participants of the show was quite rich. However, despite the rumors, the F-22 Raptors, the participation of those was very much hoped for in Radom, did not attend the show. The organizers announced that the United States would be involved in the event. Apart from a C-130 Hercules in the static display, no signs of American presence could be noted in Radom. NATO sent its E-3A Sentry AWACS platform to Dęblin and this aircraft made a flypast over the Radom field during the show.

However, certain highlights still appeared in Radom, with the Pakistani JF-17 Thunder being one of the most important and rare points of the flying display. This jet, whose roots go back to the times of the MiG-21, uses a single RD-33 engine, which is evident when we look at its back. It is surely a rarity in the European skies, and it has been a nice addition to the flying program. The Pakistan Air Force has quite significant historic connections to the Polish Air Force who virtually established the Pakistani service following the WWII.

The quite rare for the European airshows JF-17 Thunder.

Foreign aerobatic teams that showcased their display in Radom included the Baltic Bees Jet Team, Croatian Wings of Storm, Finnish Midnight Hawks, Patrouille Suisse, Frecce Tricolori, and Royal Jordanian Falcons. Here one should refer to the Swiss team, as the soloist of this group has inspired a round of applause around the Skaryszewska street ( spotting location south of the airport) breaking the sound barrier slightly and causing a sonic boom, accidentally on Saturday. Frecce Tricolori’s show announcer, also made the audience love her – she actually was performing the whole commentary in Polish.

The Frecce Tricolori display team.

When it comes to the remaining soloists, the Radom show also included displays of F-16 demo teams, including Belgian, Greek and Turkish solo displays. Out of the three, the Belgian display flown by ‘Vador’ is undoubtedly the most spectacular one and, in the author’s opinion – the best one of the showcased.

Belgian F-16 solo display team.

Czech Air Force has presented a very interesting role demo display involving its Mi-171 and Mi-24 helicopters, demonstrating a CSAR operation. Poland’s southern neighbours also brought their Gripen solo display to Poland, with the jet wearing the Czech Air Force’s centenary livery.

Czech Mi-24 Hind.

The RAF sent its Typhoon demo display to Radom. Considering the upcoming Polish Harpia programme, Radom has been a perfect arena to showcase the products that could be potentially offered. Within the static display Lockheed had its stand deployed, with F-16 and F-35 mock-ups and an F-16 simulator. Typhoon and Gripen were both a part of the flying display. Additionally, Leonardo brought its M-346FA aircraft to Radom, which was showcased on the stand of the Italian company that is also responsible for marketing the Typhoon in Poland.

The RAF Typhoon during its display routine.

A separate paragraph needs to be devoted to the Ukrainian Air Force’s involvement in the show. First, the Ukrainians came with a rarity to Radom – the Su-25UB Frogfoot jet that was displayed in the static display. Secondly, they also brought the classic Su-27 Flanker to Poland, this time in a two-seater variant (Su-27UB). It has to be said that the Ukrainian display in Radom has been much better than the one we have witnessed in the UK during the Royal International Air Tattoo, and it seemed that the pilot handled the aircraft much better. During the rehearsals on Friday the Ukrainian crew even performed tailslides.

Ukrainian Air Force Su-27UB.

Ukrainian Su-25 Frogfoot.

When it comes to the vintage flying gear, Red Bull has brought its display to Radom, including Corsair, Mitchell, Trojan and Alpha Jets.

Red Bull formation.

When it comes to the weather mentioned above – we need to admit – it was not perfect. Low cloud cover and rain on the weekend made the Air Show less pleasant, also leading to cancellation of several displays on Sunday. We also attended the show on Thursday and Friday, during which all of the rehearsals took place, hence some ‘sunny shots’ in our report. This, however, is force majeure that lays beyond the organizer’s scope of influence.

Czech Gripen.

What could have been done to make the show more attractive?

Maybe the Polish Air Force could think of including more role demos in the display schedule. For instance, the Polish 25th Air Cavalry Brigade has a role demo prepared, which is quite spectacular for the audience. A question remains as to why it was not included in the Radom programme. Also, the presence of the Celebrant was quite limited – not only because of the grounding of the Fitters and Fulcrums (role demo and solo displays), but also due to the fact that most of the attention was paid to the foreign participants. Obviously, the organizers are limited by time and daylight, thus it is hard to assess whether any compromise could have been reached within that regard, for instance considering the number of the aerobatic teams involved in the show. Also, the Polish rotary-winged helicopters were not flying in Radom at all, which is also a pity – they were only showcased in the static display. Considering Radom was a centenary event for the Polish aviation per se, this may also be viewed as a certain omission. Another factor which was somewhat omitted was the Polish Air Force’s history and heritage. Apart from the P11.C taxing, no historic aircraft with direct and obvious connection to the service were presented (such as Spitfire, for instance, considering the Polish involvement in the Battle of Britain).

It also should be noted that the static display also featured numerous assets of the Polish land forces, including the latest artillery platforms (Rak self-propelled mortars and Krab self-propelled howitzers or air defence systems, such as radars).

Images: Jacek Siminski/The Aviationist

F-35 Achieves Milestones Amid Setbacks And Criticism

Joint Strike Fighter is Still a Lightning Rod of Criticism, But Progress Continues.

Photos and Video by Lance Riegle unless otherwise stated. Story by Tom Demerly and David Cenciotti.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program reached several developmental milestones in August 2018 despite ongoing criticism of the program’s costs and reported technical concerns. As the effort to integrate the weapons system into participating air forces accelerates, the obstacles and challenges faced by the F-35 begin to appear more economic and political, and less practical and technical.

The airplane is beginning to work mostly as advertised, with the U.S. Air Force leading the integration into the force structure within the United States. The Navy and Marines continue to resolve technical challenges as their F-35 integration progresses, even though a recent POGO investigation has exposed that “program officials are recategorizing – rather than fixing – some of the aircraft’s design flaws, likely in an attempt to keep the from blowing through another deadline and budget cap.”

The U.S. Air Force is currently investigating the cause of last week’s nose gear collapse at Eglin Air Foce Base, while the Navy has begun to moderate the causes of the nose wheel oscillating vertically during catapult launches at some aircraft weights. The Navy is also working to resolve a helmet visibility problem that compromises the pilot’s view of aircraft carrier’s landing light systems at night. Until the solution is achieved for the F-35C, night landings at sea are restricted to experienced pilots. The Marines have asked for special lightning rods to prevent their recently deployed aircraft from being struck by lightning on the ground, a problem that could damage aircraft electronics. Some foreign F-35 operators will have the ability to block the F-35’s systems from sending data back to the U.S. through the Sovereign Data Management (SDM) system. This will create a sort-of operational security firewall for the much criticised Autonomic Logistics Information System (ALIS).

Perhaps the most adversarial environment for the F-35 is not denied airspace over Syria or Iran. The real high-threat environment for F-35 seems to be the no-rules, asymmetrical battlespace of social media.

In the late 1950s and ‘60s when the North American F-100 Super Sabre and Republic F-105 Thunderchief multi-role combat aircraft were in development major accidents were frequent. During the early testing and integration of the first production supersonic fighter, the F-100 Super Sabre, one aircraft was lost or damaged nearly every three days. The F-100’s own chief test pilot, North American’s George Welch, died in a 1954 crash.

Nearly half of the Republic F-105s were lost by the end of the Vietnam conflict, most to enemy action, but some in accidents before the aircraft ever deployed. Some of the F-105 accidents were high profile even before social media. One F-105 broke in two during use by the Air Force Thunderbirds. Another F-105 crashed in a Las Vegas neighborhood on May 13, 1964, killing three children and a woman on the ground along with the pilot. Eight houses burned in the crash. The F-105 was grounded pending safety investigations that revealed several dangerous problems that were subsequently repaired.

Acknowledging that the F-100 and F-105, along with the F-104 Starfighter, were among the first to fly at supersonic speeds, their technological progression from the previous generation aircraft, the P-80 Shooting Star and F-86 Sabre, could be regarded as similar to the differences between modern F-15s and F-16s and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

While there are ongoing problems with the F-35, these could be characterized as lesser than the potential context of the entire program and the arc of advancement in its key technologies. A primary challenge facing the overall F-35 program is not the technology of the aircraft itself, but the inability of the public to grasp what the F-35 actually will do. It is like trying to convince the owner of a $40 rotary telephone that a $700 iPhone is worth the upgrade, especially when they learn the battery can die and render the phone inoperable.

Integrating the F-35 into a modern and evolving battlespace has been as much a public affairs and perception challenge in the social media age as the technical challenges the program faces.

The debate between F-35 supporters and critics escalated in July 2015, when War Is Boring obtained a brief that claimed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was outclassed by a two-seat F-16D Block 40 (one of the aircraft the U.S. Air Force intends to replace with the Lightning II) in mock aerial combat.

TheAviationist.com researched and debunked some theories about the alleged capabilities of each F-35 variant to match or considerably exceed the maneuvering performance of some of the most famous fourth-generation fighters. Our analysis also also made a strong case that there is probably no way a JSF will ever match a Eurofighter Typhoon in aerial combat. Our editors also highlighted that the simulated dogfight mentioned in the unclassified report obtained by War Is Boring involved one of the very first F-35 test aircraft that lacked more recent upgrades in currently fielded F-35s.

In March 2016, we published an article written by Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche, an experienced Royal Norwegian Air Force tactical pilot with more than 2,200 hours in the F-16. Major Dolby is also a U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate and the first Norwegian pilot to fly the F-35. In that post “Dolby” provided a first-hand account of what dogfighting in the controversial F-35 looked like to a pilot who had a significant experience in the F-16 along with formal experience as a flight test and analysis pilot.

A 33rd Fighter Wing F-35A Lightning II is towed to its airshow display location. (Photo: Lance Riegle)

At the first Red Flag combat simulation exercise the F-35 participated in during early 2017 reports claimed the aircraft achieved a “15 to 1” kill ratio. But one noted journalist, Tyler Rogoway of “The Warzone”, wrote:

“The 15:1 kill ratio in particular is nebulous, because it seems this may be skewed in terms of what data it actually includes. Kill ratios attributed to a platform naturally make us think of direct engagements with enemy aircraft, but Red Flag is a highly integrated air battle, one that always uses the latest data-link fusing gateways and other force-multipliers. It remains unclear whether the stated kill ratio is strictly attributable to the F-35, or if it includes the actions of other coalition aircraft, particularly F-22s, while the F-35 is merely present.”

Rogoway’s insight into the “15 to 1 kill ratio” highlights the traditional air combat paradigm that, if a missile didn’t fly off an aircraft’s wing, that aircraft didn’t score the kill. But the F-35 doesn’t work that way. A key F-35 technology is sensor fusion. Sensor fusion is pulling in targeting data from sensors on other platforms such as surveillance aircraft or shipborne surface radars. The F-35 can then “hand-off” targets to other weapons platforms, effectively scoring a kill that would not have otherwise happened, but without firing a shot itself.

This is what TheAviationist.com’s Chief Editor David Cenciotti wrote back then:

Well, after eight days “at war”, in spite of being “just” IOC (Initial Operational Capable – the FOC is expected next year with Block 3F) the F-35A Lightning II is proving to be an “invaluable asset” during Red Flag 17-01, the Air Force’s premier air combat exercise held at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada: its ability to gather, fuse, and distribute more information than any other fighter in history provide the pilot with vital situational awareness that can be exploited to escape (and engage?) highly sophisticated and lethal enemy ground threats and interceptors.

Actually, the extent of the F-22 Raptors contribution to the above mentioned kill ratio is not clear: the F-35s are flying alongside Raptors and, as one might expect, the F-22s take care of the aggressors whilst the F-35s slip undetected through the surface-to-air defenses until it reaches the position to drop munitions at the target.

Considered that the F-22s are providing air cover to the Lightning IIs, is the 15:1 score a team result or the actual kill ratio of the F-35A?

There’s been much debate about the kill ratio of the F-35 made public after air-to-air engagements against other aircraft (namely the F-15E during a similated deployment last year).

In other (F-35) news…

Diplomatic wrangling surrounding the program has created the most sensational turbulence, and one significant stall in the case of the delayed Turkish program deliveries. The first Turkish pilot to fly an F-35A Lightning II, Major Halit Oktay, flew the aircraft at Luke AFB near Phoenix, Arizona on August 28, 2018. The Turkish news outlet “Daily Sabah” reported the flight on Wednesday.

A report also surfaced this week that the U.S. was trying to convince Turkey to “Give Up S-400s and Get F-35s” according to a headline on the HurriyetDailyNews.com Turkish news outlet. The U.S. has voiced security concerns about Turkey employing both Russian designed S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter. The concerns have resulted in a delay in providing F-35As to Turkey even as the U.S. continues to train Turkish F-35 pilots at Luke AFB. The S-400 missile system is claimed to have “anti-stealth” capabilities that could pose a threat to the F-35. U.S. lawmakers are concerned that one country using both weapons systems may compromise the security of some aspects of the F-35 program.

The U.S. Navy also achieved an F-35 milestone this week when the first F-35C integrated flight operations were conducted from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). It was the first time U.S. Navy F-35C Lightning IIs operated as an integrated part of a carrier-launched strike package. F-35Cs from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, the “Rough Raiders”, from Naval Air Station Lemoore conducted their Operational Test-1 (OT-1) with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7 and Carrier Strike Group 12 aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln. The unique, wide-winged Navy F-35Cs flew in coordination with F/A-18s and other aircraft while integrating with a navy air wing conducting cyclic missions.

180820-N-FK070-2050
ATLANTIC OCEAN (Aug. 20, 2018) An F-35C Lightning II from the Rough Raiders of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125 prepares to launch from the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian M. Wilbur/Released)

The Italian Air Force, quite “shy” about its most advanced aircraft, is sending one of their F-35As to take part in the first European airshow at Belgian Kleine-Brogel Air Base on Sept. 8-9.

Other upcoming milestones in the F-35 program will include the first flights of the British F-35s from their new aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, scheduled for early next year off the U.S. coast. The tests will initially use U.S. aircraft but likely be flown by British pilots. Meanwhile, the British have carried out the first trials out of Edwards Air Force Base, California, carrying UK-built ASRAAM missiles.

On the other side, it’s a bit of a mystery why the F-35 that have arrived to the UK haven’t flown in over a month as reported by Aviation Week. According to the MoD this was caused by maintenance checks as well as personnel leave and will have no impact on achieving the IOC (Initial Operational Capability) in December…

While the F-35 program has received valid criticism over its cost the program is showing signs of providing economic returns. Lockheed Martin stock has climbed from $122.42 per share five years ago to its Wednesday close of $321.29. The stock has lead the defense financial sector with a five year increase of 89.63% while returning a dividend yield of 2.5%. Lockheed Martin also honored a commitment to hire 1,800 new employees for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter program.

The recent milestones in the overall F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program are important to consider set the against the backdrop of publicized problems within the program. While many of the concerns facing the F-35 development are valid and significant, according to all the analysts and pilots we have talked to, they could be characterized as “the new normal” for a program as vast as the Joint Strike Fighter. For this reason, as long as the current trend of developmental advances in the program begin to outpace the ongoing concerns over costs and technical evolution, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will likely emerge as a net gain in a technical space where there is no second place.

Check Out This Nostalgic 1981 U.S. Navy Commercial Featuring the F-14 Tomcat

It’s short but worth watching.

The video below is a U.S. Navy commercial dating back to the 1981. In the early eighties the F-14 Tomcat was the Navy’s premier fighter: inducted into active service beginning in 1974, the legendary aircraft had already replaced the F-4 Phantom II in most Carrier Air Wings aboard US aircraft carriers. Actually, in 1981, the F-14 had its first air-to-air kills during what became known as the First Gulf of Sidra incident. In that aerial engagement, on Aug. 19, 1981, two F-14s from the VF-41 Black Aces downed two Libyan Su-22 Fitters.

Anyway, few years before it starred in Top Gun movie, the F-14 served as “U.S. Navy’s best recruiting tool” in a short clip that will bring you back to the “1980s”!

By the way, the aircraft you can see in the commercial is the F-14A Tomcat modex “212” belonging to VF-2 “Bounty Hunters”, a squadron assigned to CVW-2 deployed to sea (WestPac and Indian Ocean) aboard USS Ranger (CV-61) between Sep.10, 1980 and May 5, 1981. The aircraft sports the striking high-visibility camouflage/color scheme and markings that were used on Navy’s combat aircraft in that period before they were replaced by the overall grey low-viz patterns.

The airbase appears to be NAS Miramar (now MCAS Miramar).

Noteworthy, the commercial focused on the pilot alone, forgetting the other Tomcat’s crewmember: the RIO (Radar Intercept Officer).

VX-23 Air Test & Evaluation Super Blues Transition Patch Emerges On eBay

The Blue Angels will Receive the F/A-18E/F in 2021. But testing of the Super Hornet is already underway.

As already reported, the Blue Angels will take delivery of the Super Hornets to replace their “Legacy” F/A-18C/Ds in late 2021 in time to work-up for the following airshow season.

However, the Boeing F/A-18E single seat and F/A-18F two-seat Super Hornet that will be flown by the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Team will be fleet aircraft modified for airshow demonstration; they will feature biodegradable colored smoke injectors, fuel flow modifications to facilitate extended inverted flight and the addition of 7-pounds of forward hydraulic force on the control stick when maintaining level flight to improve the handling of the aircraft in turbulent, close formation flying.

Interestingly, the testing of the “new” Rhinos (as the Super Hornets are dubbed within the U.S. Navy – yes, exactly as the F-4….), is currently underway and according to our sources it is expected to be complete by the end of this year. The Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23), NAVAIR’s largest flight test organization based at NAS Patuzent River, MD, has already produced a patch that you can find on eBay here. Curiously, the “2016-2017” text suggests the VX-23 activities were completed last year even though the testing is currently underway: after investigating this a little, we have found out that the squadron ordered the patches back in 2017, before the testing was postponed to this year.

For this reason the official patch with the “wrong dates” has been around for some time and is probably going to become a collectors must!

Dealing with the VX-23 “Salty Dogs”, here are some details from the Naval Air Warfare Center webpage:

“The squadron’s mission is to support the RDT&E of fixed wing tactical aircraft by providing aircraft and pilot assets, maintenance services, safety oversight and facility support for these efforts. Primary areas of support include flying qualities and performance evaluations, shipboard suitability, propulsion system testing, tactical aircraft mission system testing, ordnance compatibility and ballistic efforts, reliability and maintainability assessments, flight fidelity simulation and flight control software development. The Squadron also provides Government Flight Representatives, test monitoring, chase aircraft support, and facilities for contractor demonstration, validation and development work involving tactical aircraft and associated systems.

The VX-23 workforce — officers (Navy, Marine Corps and foreign nationals), enlisted (Navy and Marine Corps), civilians and contractors — supports the aircraft maintenance, test planning and conduct, safety oversight and support of the squadron’s F/A-18A-D Hornets, F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, EA-18G Growlers, and T-45A/C Goshawk aircraft, and the on-going contractor demonstration efforts with F-35B/C Lighting II aircraft. VX-23 is also supported by hundreds of flight test engineers and technicians provided by the Integrated Systems, Evaluation, Experimentation and Test Department and various contractors.

The squadron conducts more than 3,000 flight operations annually, totaling approximately 4,400 flight hours, much of which involves high-risk flight test. VX-23 conducts operations, both shore based and shipboard, locally at NAS Patuxent River and operates and maintains the TC-7 catapult and MK-7 arresting gear test sites.”

We will continue to follow the Super Blues Transition and provide more details as they becomes available.

Top image credit: ebay User “patchquest”

All The Highlights of the Spectacular Aerobaltic 2018 Air Show in Gdynia, Poland.

Many interesting warbirds have taken part in the Polish airshow.

Last year the Polish Aeropact company organized the first edition of a beach air show, known under the name Aerobaltic in Gdynia. The show took place at the main city beach in Gdynia, Poland, and was generally received as a major success, with daytime and evening/night flying program. This year, on the other hand, the organizers decided to expand and divide the event into two parts: the daytime program was organized at the Gdynia Kossakowo/Babie Doły airport, while the evening/night portion of the flying took place at the beach, similarly to last year.

The Babie Doły flying program evoked a lot of hope, as this year’s edition of the event was to include the military jets too. And so it did. TS-11 Iskra jet trainer, privately owned by the White-Red Wings foundation took part in the show. Another highlight – undoubtedly – came in a form of the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight team that brought some unique airframes to Gdynia. It was the first time that this Author saw the Lansen, single-seater Draken or twin-seater Viggen jets in the air, all constituting a somewhat special point of the flying program. The Swedish participation was also complemented by a flying display performed by J29 Tunnan – a very exotic Saab’s design dating back to the 1950s – the “Ikea Air Force’s” display was thus presented in all of its glory.

The Saab J29F Tunnan.

The Saab 32 Lansen of the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight team.

The Saab Draken.

The legendary Saab Viggen.

Baltic Bees jet team was another of the jet-powered points of the flying program.

One of the L-39 of the Baltic Bees team.

Another highlight of the Babie Doły portion of the show came in a form of the Orlik Team of the Polish Air Force. To commemorate the Polish Air Force’s centenary, the team has prepared a special program this year, with the display involving Canadian Harvard trainers that were, back in the day, used as the trainer platform by the Polish aviators. The coordination and level of precision achieved between the aircraft involved in the program is undoubtedly a sight to behold. The Polish Air Force’s MiG-29 display was also scheduled for Aerobaltic, unfortunately the jets have been grounded, along with the Su-22s, at least until September, or longer. The Polish Navy, meanwhile, also presented the W-3WARM SAR helicopter in a role demo display. The Jordanian Air Force, on the other hand, had the Royal Jordanian Falcons participate in the Gdynia show, and the group also showcased a high-precision display on their Extras.

W-3WARM SAR helicopter in a role demo display.

The “civil” participants included aerobatic pilots, such as Maciej Pospieszyński or Stijn De Jaeghre, or the only Polish participant of the Red Bull Air Race series: Łukasz Czepiela. Red Bull’s Czech ‘The Flying Bulls’ team also took part in the show. 57-my team flying autogyros and Sydney Charles Display Team flying the Grob motor-gliders were also performing their programs at Babie Doły. Artur Kielak, another of the show’s participants, has prepared an interesting flying program with a Polish privately owned Yak-3U – with numerous crossings and interesting formation shifts. Swiss P3 Flyers team has also been a rarity, and it was really nice to witness the vintage trainers in the air over Gdynia Babie Doły.

Swiss P3 Flyers team.

Aerobaltic air show would not have been complete, had it not been for the sunset/night portion of the show at the beach, from which the event originated in the first place. The evening/night program was to some extent identical to the daytime one (Kielak/Yak-3U flown by Mateusz Strama), however most of the highlights for the evening/night show were different. And most of them utilized pyro element making the evening show even more spectacular, offering a lot of unique photo opportunities. Johan Gustafsson and Sydney Charles Display Team were the highlights of the night show, with their pyro display being especially rich.

The night part of the show is always breathtaking.

Overall though, the night show was not as good as the one during the first edition of the event. Maybe it would also be a good idea to have some of the jet-powered aircraft perform at the beach over the water, which could possibly produce some spectacular effects such as vapor cones. In general, the event bears a significant potential, and we should only hope that the Aeropact company which is the organizer of the show would not let it go to a waste. Fingers crossed, and we highly recommend attending this show next year!

All images: Jacek Siminski