The lucky thirteen – Memorial Air Show 2015

There is a common superstition associated with the number 13 and it is usually considered unlucky. People are afraid if this number so much, that there are no room number 13 in some hotels and there is no 13th floor in approximately 80% of the high buildings. Fortunately, it seems the organizers of the Memorial Air Show are not superstitious and the 13th edition of the airshow took place at the Roudnice airfield on 27th and 28th of June.

Memorial Air Show is organized every two years in Roudnice nad Labem – a small town on Labe river, 35km north of Prague. The airshow is mainly focused on warbirds and other historical aircrafts. The 2015 edition was no exception from that rule through its relation to the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II. That linkage was, in short, promising some interesting warbirds to participate at the show, and there was no disappointment there.

Primarily, there were the aircrafts from the World War II, as the airshow headline announced. Starting from the famous fighters as P-51 Mustang, Yakovlev Yak-3, Supermarine Spitfire or Mitsubishi Zero (Texan conversion), through B-25 Mitchell and Grumman Avenger bombers, to transport and supporting airplanes as Lisunov Li-2, Bücker Bü 131 and Beechcraft Model 18 were. This allowed the visitors to see the general overview of World War II airplane constructions, with different origin and role.

When talking about the warbirds, there is one big advantage the Roudnice airfield has, and this is a grass runway. It simply creates the right atmosphere of the World War II airfields, much more than the airshows organized at the big modern airfield with concrete runways. The dark, cloudy sky in the background was just enhancing the dramatic view and there is a pity it was often spoiled by the trucks going down the nearby highway. Or maybe I was just expecting too much?

Certainly, the airplanes of the World War II era weren´t the only ones the visitors could see during the 2015 Memorial Air Show. The organizers also arranged an interesting review of military, civilian and historical aircrafts, including modern jets, aerobatics specials, helicopters and gliders.

The military display was presented by the Czech Air Force and included L-159 ALCA and Mi-35 flying displays, L-410 display and the fly past of two Gripen fighters in formation with CL-601 Challenger. The Mi-35 helicopter display was performed by the aircraft painted in a special colour scheme taken from    B-24 Liberator used by 311 (Czech) Squadron RAF during the World War II.

The spectators could also follow two aerobatics displays performed by Marek Hyka and Martin Šonka. Further flying displays included Avia B-534 (replica), OV-10 Bronco, gliders, helicopters and parachutists. One of the strongest points in the 2015 MAS programme was the formation display performed by Zero and Avenger (this airplane still surprises me with its dimensions, being just a single-engine aircraft, the Avenger is just huge) – moving the public back in time, with the perfect show of the flying operations over the Pacific Ocean. And it really didn´t matter that this Zero chasing the Avenger over the Roudnice airfield was made from Texan…

Unfortunately, the announced Catalina amphibious aircraft didn´t make it to Roudnice this time. There was a problem with the fuel tank found shortly before the show and Catalina was grounded. Lately, during the show, there was also a problem with P-51 engine, fortunately fixed, but it caused the Mustang flying display wasn´t as dynamic as usually expected. Well, this is something that just happens with those old airplanes…

There were more than 20,000 spectators at the show on Saturday and slightly less on Sunday, according to the organizers. And even the weather was cooperating this time – it was expected the 13th MAS would be another airshow in the shower. It really was raining a few times on Saturday and the sky was dark grey all day, but finally the Sunday weather was nice and sunny.

The 2017 edition of the Memorial Air Show in Roudnice will take place on 24th and 25th June.