Where? Sliac, Slovakia
When? 31/08 - 01/09/2013
The wind of change came from the North. As proud as the Slovaks are of their MiG-29 Fulcrum and looking at the recent modernizations into the newly designated Slovakian MiG-29AS to fulfill NATO-standards it was a strange view to spot the Swedish Saab Gripen NG as the headliner on the airshow posters and promotional acts. Was this a sign of the things to come or a good move by Saab to place the Gripen well as a new jet for another Eastern European Air Force? The future will tell.
A present fact was that each day only two MiG-29s were in the air which was of course a big disappointment. The famous "One versus One" dogfight demo has been quietly erased from the airshow list and seems not to be continued, though it was still announced as a major highlight of the airshow less than one month prior to the event?! As a result there was only the MiG-29 solo display using their "0921" Tiger aircraft with the pixel camouflage scheme and the MiG-29 "Tiger" twinseater, that flew with the opening formation. This was a very special one, as it was in combination with a Czech Gripen and a Slovakian L-39 Albatros and Czech L-159 ALCA to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Czech and Slovak armed forces.
From a personal point-of-view another disappointment this year was the lack of typical Slovak food. Where were the food stalls with all their delicious "Klobasa" sausages, the barbecues laying thick smoke all around the airfield, or the tasty Baumkuchen? Of course there was beer to get for cheap at many places, but that somehow does not go well with "Wiener" sausages or a Schnitzel. Especially in the early morning hours…
But enough with the complaints, as SIAF proved to be an airshow well placed in Slovakia and internationally established. Despite other large events around Eastern Europe this year they succeeded in attracting the Spanish "Patrulla Aguila" for the first time and the Polish Su-22 Fitter display team. And of course there was the Ukrainian participation this year, bringing a An-24, Su-25 Frogfoot and Su-27 Flanker to Sliac. The latter one even for the flying display! Thus those travelling to Sliac were happy to still see a big concentration of "Warsaw Pact" hardware on the ground and in the air.
The Dutch F-16, Czech Gripen and ALCA were well known acts for the flying. The Belgium F-16s could be only found on the ground this year, and regulars were the German Tornado, British Hawks and the French AF, this year with two - in the meantime rare - Mirage F1!
All around the showground of course many more aircraft displays could be found, from Slovak AF "hands on" – or let's better say "sit-in" - exhibits to General Aviation aircraft, which was also reflected in the air displays.
After all SIAF 2013 was another great event displaying excellent hardware, but it did unfortunately lack the typical "Eastern" flair and ambiance especially on the ground. Future shows will show if this trend is being continued or not, just as for the continuation of the displays of the Slovak Air Force.Thank you for rating this article.