An interesting airshow with a varied array of participants.
Last weekend we went to Siauliai, in Lithuania, for the International Air Show “Falcon Wings 2019″ that commemorated the centenary of Lithuanian Air Forces. Siauliai is well known for being one of the homebases for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission.
The event took place on Jul 27 and had a relatively interesting dynamic display program. Given the modest nature of the Lithuanian Air Force, the air show at Siauliai was a treat.
The dynamic displays program was dominated by modern combat jets even though not all the highlights were among the fast jets. For instance, the Lithuanians sent their vintage ANBO II trainer replica in the air. ANBO II was a parasol-wing monoplane that uses a Russian-made Shvetsov M-11 engine replacing the original Walter powerplant. It undoubtedly was an interesting sight spicing up the dynamic displays program at Siauliai. The Lithuanian Air Force sent all of its assets in the air, including the C-27J Spartan, the Turbolet (in a flypast and to drop the paratroops) and helicopters. The Eurocopter AS365 helicopter performed a SAR role demo display too.
On the rotary-wing side, two Mi-24 helicopter demos also took into the air – the Czech one was intersting thanks to the orange smoke their Hind used. The second Mi-24 demo, the Polish one, was a bit different from a standard helicopter flying program, reminiscing more a fast jet than a gunship helicopter and thus it was very interesting.
The Lithuanians also had Frecce Tricolori team performing at Siauliai. The solo jet, suffering from problems, landed prematurely making the display routine performed by the Italians different from the standard: the Italian Air Force aerobatic display team performed most of the high program, excluding the solo parts.
The Finnish Air Force, interestingly, sent their Midnight Hawks Hawk to Siauliai. The jet trainer in question performed a solo display – the team, as a whole, was not present in Lithuania on Saturday. The ‘aerobatic teams’ portion of the show was complemented by a ‘dual display’ of the Czech ALCA ground attack aircraft.
Among the soloist demos spectators could admire several 4th generation fighter aircraft in the air. This included two dynamic displays flown by the F-16s (Belgian and Danish one). The Danish jet presented at Siauliai was the one in special color scheme that celebrates the 800th of Denmark’s flag.
Full of flares and tight turns, the peformance of the Belgian F-16 piloted by “Vador” never gets boring, so much so it can be safe to say that the Belgian F-16 solo display can be ranked among the best Viper solo routines in Europe now.
The Ukrainian Air Force sent its Su-27 Flanker to Siauliai, and presented a modest flying display: still, the beast from the east is always a beautiful sight in the air.
Another highlight of the airshow was the Hungarian Gripen solo display: the aircraft performed a pretty rare ‘dump and burn’ maneuver during which the jet dumps its fuel and ignites it with an afterburner, creating a long flame trailing behind.
Undoubtedly, however, the best display was performed by the Spanish Hornet. The pilot used the whole available speed range performing numerous low and high speed passes. The low-speed passes were especially spectacular, given the Hornet’s nose authority and high angle-of-attack performance. To spice things up, the display was also full of flares. Hands down, it may be said that Hornet’s solo was the icing on the cake during the event in Siauliai.
However modest the air show was (if compared to the big ones such as RIAT or Oshkosh), it was still very worth to attend, given the varied array of participants. And the Spanish Hornet solo alone made it worth the travel!