Last weekend we have attended the NATO Days event organized in Ostrava, Czech Republic. Here are all the highlights.
NATO Days 2019 took place on Sep. 20 – Sep. 22 in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
It was the 29th edition of the show and celebrated the Czech Republic’s 20th anniversary of NATO accession and 70th anniversary of NATO founding. Even though the show is one of the largest defense and security events, and features equipment from all battle domains, the air portion of the event is one of the most attractive ones in Central Eastern Europe.
The air displays schedule, however, was a bit modest this year, when compared to the previous editions.
The NATO Days event has always been associated with a very rich static display. It remains one of a few shows in Eastern Europe where you can experience the US armament and air platforms up close and personal. This year was not an exception.
The U.S. Air Force sent its C-5M Super Galaxy, B-52 Stratofortress and KC-135 Stratotanker to the Ostrava static this year. Those aircraft were also accompanied by the E-3 AWACS and Airbus A400M. The static display also included numerous air assets of the allied forces, including AH-1Z Viper and UH-1Y Venom helicopters, bound to replace the Czech Mi-24/35.
This year Romania acted as the event’s partner nation. Not only did the Romanians bring in their Puma or IAR 99 trainer aircraft to perform a dynamic display, as one of the primary highlights of the show came in a form of dynamic display of the venerable MiG-21 LanceR.
Three aerobatic teams also performed their show in Ostrava: the French Patrouille de France, the Finnish Midnight Hawks and the Swiss PC-7 team.
The Midnight Hawks were particularly amazing for their flawless and perfect formation flying. The team’s performance is very much reminiscent of the show performed by the Russian Knights or Falcons of Russia; albeit being performed with a less performing aircraft, the show brings back the memories of four Sukhois dancing in a similar harmony. The display is also done at close distance between the jets in formation which also highlights the team’s precision. The Swiss PC7 team performed a show with the Swiss Hornet – first, a few flypasts, then Hornet did its solo show and then the PC7 team took over the sky over Mosnov.
The Hornet’s show, as usual, was very impressive, with a lot of noise and spectacular high AoA performance.
The RAF Typhoon Solo Display team also attended the Ostrava event – notably, the Typhoon and Hornet displays in Ostrava were the last public displays flown by both solo display pilots – congratulations on their stunning performances over Mosnov.
The Czech Air Force’s helicopters also took to the sky, including the Czech classic – the Mi-24 display. ALCA ground attack aircraft also performed a duo role demo display in Ostrava.
Another interesting element of the display was a joint parajumpers drop of Polish and Czech special forces. Forty of them jumped out of C-295s. Members of the 43rd Airborne Battalion from Chrudim and members of the AGAT unit of the Polish Special Forces commemorated 20 years of their membership in the Alliance and the 75th anniversary of the largest airborne event in history – Operation Overlord in Normandy.
Two Czech highlights of the show were the display by Martin Sonka in a Zivko Edge 540 flying together with a Czech Air Force Gripen piloted by Cpt. Ivo Kardos – somewhat reminiscent of the Polish MiG-29 // XA-41 duo.
The second one came in a form of a dynamic display by a jet-powered Blanik glider – reportedly, a debut made by this peculiar and unique airframe at an air show. MiG-15 UTI in Czech Air Force colors also performed a dynamic display, representing the vintage side of aviation. Unfortunately, this year the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight did not appear in Ostrava, as it usually did.
Despite the modest profile of the flying program, NATO Days in Ostrava is still a perfect event to finalize the air show season in Europe. The atmosphere at the show, in conjunction with interesting displays are an attractive highlight that make it possible for the audience to enjoy the power and beauty of military aviation.