Radom Airshow 2018 had the Polish Air Force’s 100th anniversary as a main theme. Concluding from past events the expectations were very high, and the event attracted highlights such as the Ukrainian Suchoi Su-27 Flanker or the JF-17 from Pakistan for the flying display. In the end, however, it were also not only the bad weather conditions that left some disappointment.
Where? Radom, Poland
100 years of Polish Air Force / Siły Powietrzne
The Radom Airshow 2018 did not go along as planned. After weeks of glorious sunshine around Europe the weather turned to the worse for this show, which also celebrated the Polish Air Force’s 100th anniversary. And not only that, the Polish Air Force / Siły Powietrzne was also hampered by the grounding of two main jet fighter types that significantly reduced the flying display of the Polish Air Force at Radom.
Cold War Warriors
Flight incidents within the Polish Su-22 Fitter and MiG-29 Fulcrum fleet just weeks before the Radom airshow led the unfortunate cancellation of these type’s participation at the centenary celebrations. Additionally to the annulation of these former Soviet-era fighters also the Bulgarian MiG-21 LanceR was withdrawn due to a similar accident. All that remained from those crowd-favorite fighters was the Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker. Supported by an An-26 it came to Radom together with a twin-seat Su-25 Frogfoot, which remained however in the static display.
Visitor from Pakistan
Another highlight for the flying display was for the sure the Pakistan Air Force JF-17 Thunder. The jet was unfortunately not based at Radom, but at the nearby Deblin. As it only flew for the public on Saturday for roughly ten minutes, it was a rather big effort for the Pakistani contingent to bring two JF-17 and a C-130 Hercules to Poland for such a short display performance and visibility to the public. At least the Super Mushak propeller trainer (small enough to be fit in the Hercules and be taken along with no real additional effort…), also wearing Pakistani national colors, was presented in the static display. And their pilots and crew were a real enrichment and attraction also on ground.
Other jet displays included F-16s from Belgium, Greece and Turkey as well as a German and a RAF Eurofighter Typhoon as well as the Austrian Saab105Oe.
It’s about the weather…
Whereas the training day on Friday was still blessed by good weather in the afternoon, Saturday started grey and continued with temporary rain showers later in the day.
As such, the flying display in the morning was cut short and interrupted. But the organizers did very well in recovering most of that in the afternoon. From the main acts in the flying program only the German Eurofighter and the Polish F-16 were missing on Saturday.
Sunday started with drizzling rain, and the German Eurofighter and also the missing Polish F-16 from the day before used that period to show off. Unfortunately the rest of the day was more or less a complete wash-out with many cancellations due to a low ceiling and limited visibility. Around midday the whole flying was understandably cancelled due to those miserable conditions. As a side aspect there remained more time to have a look at the rather extensive static display of Polish Air Force aircraft, helicopters and visiting aircraft from invited countries.
As such, some of the photos in this report are just included for the sake of giving an overview of the large number of participants in the flying display, but are restricted to very few shots due to unfavorable weather conditions. This counts especially for the large number of display teams such as the Freue Tricolori, Patrulla Aguilla, Midnight Hawks and the Patrouille Suisse which were not able to present their skills under those weather conditions.
…and missed opportunities
The Radom Airshow 2018 was a good airshow with a big line-up of flying display, but a slightly bad taste remains, and this is not due to the weather. Considering the centenary celebration of the Polish Air Force, something was missing from the otherwise extensive flying display. And this was unfortunately a strong presentation of the Polish Armed Forces.
Whereas previous editions of the Radom airshow featured massive formation fly-pasts, only some formations of Polish aircraft were seen in this year for the big anniversary. And this was a strong reduction on flying activity compared to the big flypast that had been presented previously.
But two Polish formations really stood out, and were both set up with civil support. They really showed the potential of what would have been possible.
The Polish airline LOT did send a Boeing B737max wearing the „Proud of Poland’s Independence“ special scheme to form up with the PZL TS-11 Iskras of the Bialo-Czerwone Iskry (“White-and-Red Sparks”) display team. And three PZL-130 Orliks flew in formation with two North American T-6 Texans. Though the latter formation was a tribute to the training aircraft of the Polish Air Force – during WWII and nowadays. A Yakovlev Yak-11 would have been another nice addition to join this “Heritage Flight” of generations of Polish Air Force trainer aircraft. This formation was a great sight and was perfectly flown underneath the low hanging clouds to fully appreciate it.
Radom Airshow in Review
Despite the possibility to get some really great photos during some hours of rehearsals on Friday afternoon from a field on the other side of Radom airbase, in the end a more bitter than sweet taste remains. If such an airshow is held at an Air Force base and the logo itself includes the „100th anniversary of the Polish Air Force“, visitors expect to see more Polish airplanes in the air than just the two Polish display teams and an F-16 solo display. As such, it was a solid event, but even considering the drop-outs of the Fitter(s) and Fulcrum(s), in my eyes it failed to meet its expectations of centenary celebrations. For a next show, there remains room for improvement and a look back during planning to get inspiration from past editions of Poland’s main military airshow.