The Slovak International Air Fest is one of the youngest European airshows. Its 5th edition took place on the last weekend in August, at Sliac airfield.
During the past years SIAF has found its place among the European airshows. The list of the aircrafts that have visited it is really impressive, both static and dynamic displays. It´s enough to mention B-52 Stratofortress, Su-25, Mirage F-1 at static displays or Su-22, Su-27, Eurofighter, MiG-29 and Patrula Aguilla with the flying displays.
2015 static display highlights were two USAF F-15C (that were the last minute addition to the static display) and Eurocopter Tiger from German Luftwaffe, with the addition of recently restored Avia B-33 (licensed Il-10). The visitors could also see two German Tornados, L-159 ALCA, MiG-29, Saab 105, BAe Hawk, C-130 Hercules and more, the aircrafts that are present at most of the airshows in this part of Europe. Taking into account it was the 5th anniversary; the static display was solid, but not impressive.
SIAF airshow is already known that there would be some interesting flying displays there and this edition wasn´t the exception. There were Slovak MiG-29s and other expected displays as Zoltan Veres amazing aerobatics display, calming Ocovski Bacovia glider formation or P-51 Mustang among them.
The main solo displays were performed by jet aircrafts: Belgian F-16, Swiss F-18, Slovak MiG-29 and L-39 Albatros, Czech L-159 ALCA and Austrian Saab 105. And last but certainly not least was the absolute star of the solo displays – Polish MiG-29 flown by Cpt. Adrian Rojek. Both MiG-29 and his pilot started to be famous after the RIAT 2015 and the Adrian Rojek´s fabulous display. The same could be said about his performance at SIAF and this was not surprising that Cpt. Rojek won the prize for the best military flying display.
What the spectators like the most are the aerobatics teams and SIAF 2015 surely was what they expected: Frecce Tricolori, Swiss Air Force PC-7 team, Orlik Aerobatic Team and additionally Patrouille de France on Sunday.
Slovaks love Frecce Tricolori. And they love Andrea too. It could be clearly seen on Sunday, the spectators´ area was full of people during their display and shortly after the landing of Italian aircrafts many people had packed their stuff and went toward the exit gates. That´s a pity, as the programme didn´t end with the Italian display and still there were many interesting displays to be seen, including Polish MiG-29 display.
The Frecce Tricolori display is interesting indeed, but the display itself is just a part of the success they achieve in Slovakia. There wouldn´t be so much popularity without the dynamic, expressive and sometimes funny commentary performed by Andrea Soro. Trying to say the commentary in Slovak language, including the hard to pronounce words (even if mostly not pronouncing them correctly); Andrea Soro won the hearts of Slovak spectators in 2012, during the first Frecce Tricolori performance at SIAF. This time it was the same – Andrea Soro was not only doing the commentary, he was a part of the show. And nobody cares that at the beginning he confused left side with the right side.
Slovaks also love their MiG-29s. It was clearly seen, that the display of Slovak MiG-29 was the second one to attract the most of the airshow visitors, followed by display of Polish MiG-29. This is, certainly, not only the fascination of this aircraft but also some sentimentality and patriotism could be added here. It is the well-known fact that Slovak MiG-29s are becoming obsolete and the discussion about the replacement of their fighter jet flotilla already started a few years ago. It was rather clear recently, that MiG-29s would be replaced by Gripens, but the latest news said this idea would probably fail, because of the financial reasons. The question of having (or not) the jet fighters as a part of Slovak Air Force was discussed nationwide and even used as a part of political campaigns.
Just on the very next day, Monday 31st August, the Slovak website topky.sk has published the article about the future of Slovak jet fighters and a short survey about the preferred aircraft for the Slovak Air Force. The result was very interesting but expected – 73% of the votes was for keeping the MiG-29s in the service. It could be said this was just a kind of wishful thinking, unfortunately, but clearly showing what Fulcrum means there.
SIAF 2015 was really a hot airshow. And I don´t mean the displays here, but just the weather. This summer was really hot and dry in all Central Europe and it was the same during the last weekend of August. The sky was without a cloud with the temperatures reaching +40⁰ C. This could sound nice when one is spending the day at the beach, sunbathing – but not if you´re at the airfield and trying to take some photos in addition. Especially at SIAF airfield, when the most of the displays are against the sun… Usually there was some clouds (and even the rain) to improve the light conditions, but not this time.
Despite the tropic weather the record number of visitors from 2012 was easily broken. There was 120,000 visitors in 2012, this year it reached 140,000. With the total number of 107 displayed aircrafts (including 49 flying displays) from 14 countries, the SIAF airshow becomes one of the main airshow events in this part of Europe, already being more than the local airshow as the number of the foreign visitors from Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland or Austria is still growing.