My name is Artyom Soloduha and i am the Leader of the Baltic Bees Jet Team, one of the largest professional civilian aerobatic teams in the world, currently based in Latvia. I started my career in aviation at a very young age attending a prestigious aviation college in Ukraine. I have achieve pilot license shortly after and build up the “Baltic Bees ” project since the beginning of operations, becoming the youngest team leader at age of 21. Long time has passed since the very first flight with the Bees, and i can consider myself now a quite experienced pilot of a wonderful Team i am really proud of .
The Baltic Bees is a well known demo team, but please tell us a little about the team itself and some history as well.
It all started 10 years ago, when a crazy idea became reality. 4 L39 were prepared and pilots were training in Jurmala, the same airport we are now based. The 04.01.2011 the first 4 aircraft formation loop was executed . Since then a wondeful story begun, full of success and experiences. The Team rapidly grew to 5, then 6 , and soon 7 jets. During the years we visited over 45 countries, participating world-class events in UAE, China etc , and being seen live yearly by over 7 million people .
The L-39 is probably one of the most well known small jet in the World, tell us about it, how do you like to fly with it?
L-39 Albatros is , so far, one of the most used ex-warbird jet in the world by civilian. This is due to its popularity , in fact more than 3700 were built during Soviet time , making it the most produced jet trainer in the world. This year will be 50th anniversary since the first flight and will be celebrated with the roll-out of the new L-39NG, a wonderful enhanced machine we would love to fly someday 😉 however our L-39s, despite their age, the are looking smoking hot and fly great.
How many people help you on the ground?
During the show usually 4-5 ground engineers support us for aircraft preparation . The safety of operation means a lot to us and our engineers do their best to provide us with fully working and safe machines.
Who will be the pilots for 2018?
We will fly with the same formation as last year with the plan to add a 7th pilot during this season. 1- Artyom Soloduha 2- Igor Yudkin 3- Anatolj Perekriostov 4- Aleksandr Zarins 5-Valery Sobolev 6- Alessandro Scorrano
How was the 2017 season, any favourite moment?
2017 was epic. We beated all records and we could not hope for better. We can only wish 2018 will be as good and as successful as our previous one, with new challenges ahead. The favourite moment i think was after the first landing on the starting journey to China. We all did not want to think about that before. We just did not believe we could make such distance. After the first fuel stop in Kursk, we all realised that this was getting real! Since then we had a great time and displaying in China was the most challenging thing we have ever done.
What can you tell us for the 2018 season? Any airshows already in the calendar?
Calendar for 2018 season is still on process and it is adding new locations every week. We may have a better picture of the 2018 season in a couple of month, but i can say that it looks promising and as great as , if not better, than our last season.
Who decides which airshows you perform?
Being a private professional Team, we are very flexible, but have to take into account the financial part. We are invited by organisers all over the world to attend their events. We evaluate the possibility to attend and Then send a quote for participation. If our offer fits the organiser budget , we are very happy to perform and always keen on participating in countries we have never visited before .
When and where do you train for the 2018 season?
All our training flights are held our base in Jurmala Airport, Latvia .
Any plan for a big tour like the Asian Tour last time?
We have great plans for 2018 and we are opened to new challenges during this year, so let’s keep fingers crossed and stay tuned!
What are the reactions from the audience after the programs? Do they ask for autographs, a joint photo?
Where can the people find the team on the internet?
During the last years, we are strenghtening the public relations and visibility on the web publishing amazing contents video/photo. We are getting more and more followers on social medias , especially Facebook and Instagram. You can follow us on FB ” Baltic bees jet Team” or Instagram @balticbees . We also recently opened our web store , where our fans can buy exclusive Team products, i suggest a visit www.balticbees-store.com
Lets say you search for a new pilot for the team, how can someone become a Baltic Bees pilot?
It is all about attitude and spirit of adaptation. You need it a lot , when you have to share your entire summer abroad with other 12 people. This slowly becomes your family. What we are looking for is not only a skilled pilot but a person that can “live” the Team with a strong motivation and adaptation. Pilots can acquire skills but cannot change personality, so we pay a lot of attention to it before selecting a new member.
If I remember the team performed at Kish Island, Iran. How does the team prepare for such a long distance travel?
Kish Island looked so far back in 2016. Being back from East China , after 11 legs and over 10.000 km flown , i can say Kish was like a weekend getaway 😉 There is a lot of planification and organisation beside this flight. When flying formation , especially in non-EU countries, it gets hard and costly if you are not prepared, acquiring all permissions in advance. Another handicap we may have is that we fly with no support aircraft, so only few spare parts can be carried with us during the flight. So not only pilots prepare for the long flights, but also engineer do their best to provide us with aircraft in great conditions. I can say this proudly, having flown 51 hours from EU to China and back, with 6 jets and no failures.
Thank you very much, any final words to our readers?
Thank you for this interview and a greeting on behalf of all the Baltic Bees Jet Team to all the hungarian and international readers. We expect you in Latvia for a visit to the base and , why not, a flight on L-39 . You can order your jet experience and fly with us, booking it on www.balticbees.com