The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence (Ваздухопловство и противваздухопловна одбрана) had its annual open day on the first of october. The gate was open to everyone who were interested, it was our first time to visit as well and it was good to ssee that like all open days around the world, here as well families come with big numbers.
The Serbian Air Force and Air Defence was highly crippled duirng the 1999 NATO bombings. At least (sources vary) 6 MiG-29 were lost during the weeks, and now only a handfull of Fulcrums are on hand. The MiG-21 and the Soko J-22 Orao fleet’s are not in better shape as well, and did not perform any dynamic display during the open day.
During the day, all jets, helicopters and training aircrafts were there at the static display, while others were visible at the distance, several MiG-21, Mi-8 and even two Yak-40.
Batajnica is home to the 204th Air Brigade, consisting of foru squadrons (101st Fighter Squadron, 252nd Training Squadron, 138th Transport Squadron, 890th Mixed Helicopter Squadron) one 1Air Defence Artillery Battalion defending the air base with the S-125 Neva system (which was also part of the static display) and several other key parts of the Air Force, like the Air Force and Air Defense Training Center, the Aeronautical Plant “Moma Stanojlović”and the Military Technical Testing Center Flight Test Section.
The gates were open from 10am and the whole program lasted 4 hours. During the first hour people were able to look around the static display, under some tents you were able to get some souvenirs if you wanted, wich were connected to the Serbian Air Force: books, mugs, shirts, hats, stickers. At 11am one Soko Gazelle opend the dynamic show with para jumpers, who as usual like at all open gates or airshows carried the flags of Serbia and the Crown Flag. After that came to true jewel, the MiG-29! We have to mention that the Serbian Air Force and Air Defence purchased a total of 14 MiG-29s and two MiG-29UBs from the USSR, in 1987, and their pilots have very minimal hours to train. Hence the display was not as dynamic as one might looked forward to it. Also for safety reasons, the display was far from the crowd. But for our luck, for two passes the pilot came closer, getting some fine shoots for the end.
After this, three Soko G-4 Super Galeb came to do flight fromations, and doing a sort of „follow the leader” game, when two Galeb’s from the group tried to „catch” the leader. One UTVA 75, a low-wing monoplane, piston-engine aircraft manufactured by UTVA (locally) did a short flight, doings sharp turns near to the crowd. After that one Soko Gazelle carrying one sniper and one Mi-8MTV-5 took of. The later one (two all together) was purchased this year and came only a few months ago. The open day was the type’s first public display. The two helicopter did an extraction manouver, while the Mi-8 landed and the soldiers carried the pilot to the helicopter, the Gazelle circled over the extraction point. The two helicopters in the end landed near the crowd in front of the tower, as the two Soko G-4 Super Galeb, that did another short display in the air after the helicopters landed.
All together it was a fine day, one might say: „if only this jet could have flown”. True! If the Soko J-22 Orao and the MiG-21 would have done a dynamic display as well, than we could say: „it was a damn good day”. But as we said before, it was good and looking at the photos, we can verify that to ourselves again.