50 years JG74
Open Days of the Luftwaffe are rare and few these days, and to reduce costs the 50th anniversary of the JG74 at Neuburg has even been held on a Thursday to avoid additional work during the week-end. Though this also meant that nearly all interested visitors had to take a day off, a crowd of around 15.000 came to celebrate that day.
Where? Neuburg Air Base, Germany
The highlight for sure was the special coloured Eurofighter (30+48) with a gradient of the Bavarian colours white and blue on the tail, covered by the emblem of the Fighter Wing 74 as well as the "50" to celebrate this anniversary. The good news is that these markings are painted on and said to last for at least one year.
Unfortunately the weather with a grey sky and temperatures below 20° was not what you would usually expect in a June, but at least it did not rain.
[ a small note: Photos in this report showing a blue sky have been taken during the rehersal day two days before the show.]
The flying display was quite compact with the take-off of two QRA aircraft that took off at 10h30 and returned one hour later before the lunch break.
The afternoon saw more flying activitiy with the SNAP (Significane of National Air Power) showpiece, staging around the rescue of a downed pilot.
This included several chapters such as CAP by four Eurofighters, fly-bys by Tornados to show their different roles as ECR, IDS and RECCE aircraft, interception of "Aggressor" Phantoms by two Eurofighters as well as demonstration of two Bell UH-1D Hueys as CSAR helicopters and the venerable C-160 Transall in their MedEvac role.
All this was completed by a E-3A AWACS, which was even the special coloured one, fly-by. The air-air refuelling demo with the A310 MRTT unfortunately only happend during the rehersal days and not in front of the oublic on the showday itself.
The performance of the Eurofighter was also demonstrated by a solo display, this was however flown by an Austrian pilot using an Austrian jet.
The highlight of the approximately 90 minute long flying in the afternoon was a 4-ship formation led by the special coloured Eurofighter and followed by 3 aircraft of all the other Luftwaffe units currently operating this aircraft: JG73 from Laage, JG74 from Neuburg and JaboG 31 from Nörvenich. The formation flew by twice in diamond formation before coming in to land, with the anniversary jet doing a touch and go before coming in last to land.
On the ground apart from jets of all Luftwaffe units the historic aircraft from Manching (Bf108, Me109 and Me 262) also flew in and caught the attention of the visitors.
Looking at the international visitors the current war in Libya did have its implications on the invited participants, but nevertheless a Belgian F-16, Czech Gripen, Swiss Hornet and a French Alpha Jet did attend the show.
Resuming the day that lasted from 9am in the morning until 16pm it was a nice opportunity once again to sneak behind the curtain at Neuburg, and though other events might offer more attractions in the sky, the flying was very well devised and done regarding the circumstances, and especially the 4-ship of all 3 wings showed the well-thought planning of the event.
Drinking and food was also very well Bavarian-style and made the event all-around a well day out!
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