The first weekend of June usually means the date that belongs to the Aviation Fair (Aviatická pouť), organized annually at the Pardubice airfield. The 27th edition of this airshow took place on 3rd and 4th June 2017.
The Bleriot XI replica is a traditional opener of the Aviation Fair flying programme, bringing back the flight performed by Jan Kašpar, Czech aviation pioneer.
During the years, the Aviation Fair become the traditional meeting place for various historical airplanes and warbirds. They constitute the main concept of the airshow, filled up by the aerobatics specials and the Czech Air Force displays. There was not exception in 2017, the programme was based on several interesting, and famous, historical aircrafts, including P-51 Mustang, Spitfire Mk. XVIE, OV-10 Bronco, Yak-3, Yak-9, Yak-11.
The Aviation Fair is closely cooperating with the Flying Bulls and the aircrafts with the Red Bull logo painted on them are among the traditional visitors of the Pardubice airfield. This year the Flying Bulls arrived at the Aviation Fair with B-25 Mitchell, Alpha Jet A and their recently renovated T-28B Trojan.
North American T-28B Trojan, the Flying Bulls.
The Flying Bulls aerobatics team is another usual participant of this airshow. They could be seen in Pardubice for several years already – back in the day flying their Zlin Z-50s, and now, after several changes in the team, flying the XA42 aerobatics specials.
The Flying Bulls were not the only one aerobatics group that could be seen during the 27th Aviation Fair – the Breitling Jet Team flying the Czech-made L-39 Albatros training jet, was, with no doubt, one of the highlights of the airshow. This largest civilian jet aerobatics group used to be the frequent participant of another Czech airshow, CIAF in Hradec Kralove, performing their last display there in 2013. This year the French team had their debut in Pardubice and performed marvellous and dynamic display.
The Breitling Jet Team.
Another Aviation Fair premiere was also planned to be the highlight of the show, maybe the greatest one – the list of the airshow participants included the aircraft that many consider the most beautiful airliner ever made: Lockheed Super Constellation. This classic airliner, the only airworthy Connie in Europe, was supposed to be the hottest participant of the 27th edition of Aviation Fair. Among the additional acts related to visit of this airliner in Pardubice was even the possibility to buy a sightseeing flight onboard the Super Constellation.
Spitfire Mk. XVIE.
Unfortunately, the technical problems with the repairs and maintenance performed on Connie during the winter break postponed the season opening for this unique airliner and caused the Super Constellation Flyers Association was forced to cancel eleven of the already confirmed displays, including the Aviation Fair. This was, with no doubt, the big disappointment to those aviation fans that were happy to see Connie in Pardubice and for those who bought the tickets for the sightseeing flight – but this is nothing surprising with the rare historical airplanes, the breakdowns happen quite often, the spare parts usually must be especially manufactured, and the repairs are long and expensive.
As it seemed nothing can replace the Super Constellation, the organizers of the Aviation Fair managed to invite another four-engine powered historical airliner: the silver-painted Douglas DC-6B from the Flying Bulls collection. As there are several airworthy DC-6 reported, the one that belongs to the Hangar-7 collection is also the unique airliner. This DC-6 was previously delivered to JAT Yugoslav airlines, then converted for the luxury airplane for Yugoslavian head of state, Marshall Josip Broz Tito. In 1975 the airliner was sold to Zambia, where she served as the VIP airplane for president Kenneth Kaund.
Certainly, the Super Constellation would be the star of the Pardubice sky, but all appreciations to the organizers of the Aviation Fair for the possibility to see another interesting classic airliner during the airshow.
Douglas DC-6B, the Flying Bulls.
Douglas DC-6B, the Flying Bulls.
The Czech Air Force participated in the 27th edition of the Aviation Fair with both static and dynamic displays. At the static display the Gripen and L-159 ALCA could be seen, together with the aircrafts from the CLV training centre – Mi-2, Mi-17, L-39 Albatros. The flying part of the Czech Air Force presentation included JAS-39 Gripen, Mi-24/35 ´Alien Tiger´ solo displays, pair of L-159 ALCAs dynamic display and few flypasts of CLV aircrafts.
Aero L-159 ALCA, static display of Czech Air Force.
Mil Mi-17 ´Hip´, static display of CLV Pardubice.
The visitors of the Aviation Fair could also enjoy the static and flying displays of several other classic aircrafts. At the static display an Aero Ae-145, T-28 Trojan, M1D Sokol, L-200D Morava or Pilatus PC-7 could be seen, the flying displays (besides the aircraft already mentioned above) were performed by Bücker Bü 131 ´Jungmann´ (respectively the Tatra T-131 and Casa 1-131E variants), Polikarpov Po-2, Harvard Mk. II, Beech C45H Expeditor or SM-92TE Finist. In addition, two Aviation Fair premieres – re Stinson AT 19B / Reliant Mk. III and DH. 82 Tiger Moth – are also worth mentioning. Most of those airplanes were also available at the static exhibition, before and after their flying demonstration slot.
The visitors to the Aviation Fair know, that the aircrafts are just a part of the main programme, as the dynamic performances usually include also some scenes from the past, performed on the ground by the re-enacting groups. They are the interesting addition to the flying displays, creating the background related to the era and showing the flying display in the wider context.
Alpha Jet A, the Flying Bulls.
There is a pity that during both days of the airshow the unexpected events affected the programme of the show. On Saturday the grass near the runway caught fire from the pyrotechnic used during the displays, and this put the show on hold for more than one hour. The next day, on Sunday, the heavy showers also forced the organizers to hold the flying activity. Unfortunately, there is no possibility to extend the airshow time beyond the planned hours – as the organizers are not the owner of the airfield – and such breaks mean some cancellation in the programme, for example on Saturday there was no World War I display with flying replicas, the BALBO formation and the traditional group flight of Zlin aircrafts were also cancelled.
Beech C45H Expeditor.
Despite the mentioned cancellations, the 27th Aviation Fair offered the interesting programme, with attractive collection of the participating aircrafts. It certainly must be noticed that there are some parts of the programme that are repeating each year, as well as there are many airplanes that could be classified as the frequent participants of the Aviation Fair. However, this should be considered the advantage, resulting in the possibility to see each year the collection of the famous warbirds and classic aircrafts. The same can be said about the always dynamic and attractive performance of the Czech Air Force.
On the other, the Aviation Fair organization team is each year trying to introduce some premieres, as in 2017 the Breitling Jet Team, Stinson or Tiger Moth were.