´Farewell Transall´ and the airlift festival – Tag der Bundeswehr 2017, Fliegerhorst Landsberg/Lech.

Tag der Bundeswehr is the annual open day event organized by German army, offering the possibility to visit their military facilities on various locations through the country: barracks, training areas, naval bases and, certainly, airfields. Those locations are rotating year by year which keeps the event even more interesting by giving the opportunity to see several different sites. There were three airbases opened on 10th June 2017 – Diepholz, Faßberg and Penzing, with the additional flying displays performed at other locations.

Transall C-160D, 51+01 – with the special ´60th Anniversary of LTG 61´ painting.

The airbase in Penzing was opened in 1937 as one of the new facilities build for the recently established Luftwaffe and become one of three airfields located near Landsberg am Lech (together with Lechfeld and Bad Wörishofen) that were used mainly by bomber aircrafts. After the World War II, the Penzing airfield was used as the USAF base until 1958, then it was handed over to the German Air Forces.

Douglas C-47A Skytrain.

The LTG 61 was established in 1957 at the Erding airbase, at this very beginning the newly created unit was equipped with C-47 Dakota aircrafts but shortly they were replaced by the Nord 2501 Noratlas transport airplanes. The ´Noras´ were used until 1971, when they were replaced by the new cargo aircraft, the Transall C-160D – this was also the year when LTG 61 moved to Penzing airfield. During the 60 years of the service the LTG 61 took part in several military and humanitarian operations in Europe, Asia and Africa: during the 1984 famine in Ethiopia, airbridge to Sarajevo (1992 – 1996), Operation Serval in Mali (2013-2014) and others.

The static display during the open day – C-160D Transall.

In 2017 the LTG 61 celebrated its 60th anniversary – sadly, it was also the final one. As the result of another generational change and following reorganization of the German Air Forces, the C-160s are now being replaced by Airbus A400M Atlas airplanes and it was decided that the LTG 61 would be disbanded. This made the open day in Penzing an important event, organized not only to celebrate the 60th anniversary but also to say farewell to LTG 61 and to support the ongoing generational change in the Luftwaffe.

Airbus A400M Atlas – the new transport aircraft in the Luftwaffe.

What made this day special was the possibility to see all transport aircrafts used by LTG 61 flying together – starting with Douglas C-47A Skytrain, then the only airworthy Nord 2501 and finally the anniversary painted C-160D, the ´Silver Chamois´. All those airplanes performed several flypasts over the airfield during opening and closing of the open day event. This was the perfect, one of a kind opportunity to see all those aircrafts flying together, featuring more than 80 years of the history of the air transport.

Transall C-160D ´Silberne Gams´ (Silver Chamois).

The transport aircrafts were also the main point of the static display that included several Transalls (both in Luftwaffe green colour and the UN white), Airbus A400M, C-27 Spartan from Italy, two C-130s (USAF and RNLAF) and CH-53G helicopter. All those aircrafts were accessible for public, there was the possibility to see the interior, cargo area and cockpit. Additionally, most of them had also their engine covers opened. And this was the big hit – the interest in seeing the interior of those aircrafts was enormous, the long lines of people waiting for their opportunity to board the aircraft could be seen just a few minutes after opening the gates. As expected, the longest queue was the one leading to A400M Atlas and it was more than 100 meters long during the whole day.

The longest queue seen durng the open day was the one at the A400M, but there were long lines at every available aircraft – C-130H, Wyoming Air Natonal Guard.

Another section of the static display that enjoyed wide currency was the display of the current Luftwaffe equipment – with EF 2000 and Tornado airplanes and H145M helicopter. Those modern aircrafts were accompanied by historical airplanes and the visitors to the Penzing airbase could see the legendary Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jet, Focke-Wulf FWP-149D or Dornier Do-27A. The static exhibition was completed by the Pilatus PC-6 from Austrian Bundesheer and some additional training, utility and sport aircrafts.

An ´aviation porn´ – opened covers of the C-160D engine.

The flying displays were divided in two sections and the already mentioned flypast of the three transport aircrafts was the highlight of either the morning and the afternoon display. Amazingly dynamic show performed by the EF 2000 solo – flown to the AC/DC ´Thunderstruck´ song – was another strong point of the morning display.

Nord 2501 Noratlas.

At the afternoon, the spectators could watch the joint operation scenario based on the ground troops support operation. During this dynamic and interesting show, the variety of Luftwaffe aircrafts could be seen in the air, primarily the EF 2000s and Tornados as the backbone of the German Air Forces. The scenario included the aircraft re-fuelling with Airbus A310-304 MRTT and the cargo drop to supply the ground troops, and of course this was performed by C-160 Transall.

C-160D dropping the cargo load for the ground troops.

After this fascinating display, as the final flying performance of the Tag der Bundeswehr in Penzing, there was another flypast of the transport aircrafts. All three of them, C-47, ´Nora´ and silver-painted Transall, were circling above the airfield and the countryside for a long time – that was the most awesome way to say farewell to the airbase and the LTG 61.

Certainly, the static and dynamic aircraft displays were not the only attraction during the open day. The visitors were able to see, for example, the Patriot missile system display, there were several exhibitions and side events related to the 60th anniversary of LTG 61, fun area for children and there was even the possibility to meet the Star Wars stormtroopers (and of course to take the ´stormtrooper-selfie´).

Lockheed C-130H, Royal Netherlands Air Force.

According to the Bundeswehr approximately 51,000 people arrived to Penzing, a really huge number of visitors considering it was just one of the several similar events organized across the country that day. Notwithstanding the number of visitors, the organization of the open day was perfect – there were enough parking places arranged around the airfield with the free shuttle bus connection, the waiting time for the shuttle was short and there were no significant traffic jams spotted.

The Tag der Bundeswehr offers the additional opportunity to take some great photos and enjoy the aircrafts as there are the spotter days organized in relation to the main event. And the Luftwaffe organized spotter days usually receive a great deal of attention for their perfect organization and the exceptional photo possibilities.

Sikorsky CH-53G Sea Stallion, Luftwaffe.

Penzing open day was no exception, the spotter event was organized on 8th of June, two days before the Tag der Bundeswehr. As expected, it attracted the enormous interest again and the spotter day was booked out in a very short time. The approximately 230 lucky aviation fans were able to come to the airbase and enjoy the open day arrivals from the spot located near the main runway.

´Dakota´and ´Nora´.

Without any exaggeration, it was an amazing day that offered several wonderful photo opportunities as most of the aircrafts were performing the additional manoeuvres on their arrival to Penzing. Not only the low passes or circling above the runway, there was also a spectacular touch-and-go by Tornado and a few rehearsal flights. The Silver Chamois performed the solo display and the formation flight with C-47 and Nord 2501.

Panavia Tornado IDS, Luftwaffe.

And the only regrettable thing is that it was the last open day event in Penzing… At the end of September 2017, the official fly-out event took place and the C-160s from Penzing were transferred to the Lufttransportgeschwader 63 in Hohn. The anniversary silver-painted Transall C-160 made her last flight on 18th December 2017 – the aircraft was flown by Oberst Daniel Draken (the last Kommodore of LTG 61) to the final landing place at Flugplatz Ballenstedt. The Silver Chamois was then transported to the aviation museum at Wernigerode where she would be one of the exhibited aircrafts.

On 31st December 2017 the Lufttransportgeschwader 61 was officially disbanded.

The re-fuelling from Airbus A310-304 MRTT.

 

The stormtroopers were seen at the Penzing airbase – Will they take the airfield over?