SIAD 2002, Bratislava, 8/9 June
Andreas Zeitler of www.flying-wings.com reports from an overcast Slovakia
SIAD 2002 was the fifth International Air Display in the short history of the Slovak Republic. Held over the weekend of 8/9 June at the M. R. Stefanika Airport, Bratislava's International Airport situated in the east of the country's capital. Going seemed a good idea as I expected to see some Eastern European aircraft and a program published on the Internet promised many highlights - I wasn't to be disappointed...
After a five-hour drive from Munich I arrived at Bratislava in the early morning, but it was difficult to find the airport! After some time I found it (using a Jeep might have been a good idea!) and started a twenty-minute walk to the entrance. In the distance the first tails were visible and I already knew that it was worth the journey!
The static display was split up into three parts - the first was a small exhibition of Russian SAM-missiles, followed second by the bigger planes. These comprised a Yak-42 and a Tu-154 of the Slovak Republic, followed by the Ukrainian deployment of an Il-76 and the 'famous' Tu-22, still wearing the RIAT sticker from a couple of years ago. All these planes were parked far enough away from one another, so that decent pictures were possible.
The third part was small transport aircraft, helicopters and jets - the Slovak parade, which included an An-26, L-410, Mi-2, Mi-8, Mi-24, L-159, MiG-21 and a MiG-29; an Ukrainian Su-27, a Fokker F60 from the Netherlands, a Casa 235 from Spain, two USAFE F-16Cs (AV) and F-15Cs (LN) and a C-130 (RS), a Canadian CF-18, two German Tornados and an F-4F and finally a Galeb G-2A from the Serbian Republic.
Sadly the pre-flight preparations and the flying display aircraft were not clearly visible from the spectator area, so one always had to wait to see what was coming next. Starting the flying programme were mixed formations of every type in the modern-day Slovak Air Force (3 x Mi-8, 3 x Mi-24, 3 x L-410, 3 x An-26, 3 x L-29, 3 x L-39, 1 x MiG-21 + 2 x MiG-29). Then, a MiG-21 gave an impressive flight display, followed by a BAF F-16. Not one but three Falcons displayed, the F-16 also being represented by the Netherlands and the Norwegian Air Forces. Also among the fast jets were BAE System's Hawk 100, a RAF Tornado GR4, a French Mirage 2000, a L-159 from the Czech Republic and, perhaps best of all, the Ukrainian Su-27. Saturday also saw an additional fly-by by a pair of J-35 Drakens from Austria.
The Slovak Air Force provided a good mix of displays too - the Mi-2 presented a typical rescue mission, while the Mi-24 showed off its manoeuvrability and released flares during its presentation. A highlight was the solo demonstration by a MiG-29 (also with flares release) and the simulated air-air combat by two MiG-29s, one of which sported special tiger colours.
Aerobatic Teams were plentiful at SIAD 2002 - the Biele Albatrosy (5 x L-39), the Sky Huzars (Yak 18/52), the Spanish Patrulla Aquila (7 x Casa-101), the Swiss PC-7 Team (9 x PC-7), the Italian Frecce Tricolori (10 x MB-339) and the French Patrouille de France (8 x Alpha Jet). And to conclude, the next SIAD is due to be held in June 2004 - be there!