This airshow was held to celebrate 100 years of aviation in Pilsen / Plzeň. Even though this fourth most populous city in Western Bohemia, Czech Republic, is undeniably better known for the type of blond lager beer to which the city gave its name, it also has an aviation rich history. This aviation focus was very well presented on a fine summer week-end, and topped off with cold beer and tasty sausages.
Where? Líně Airport, Pilsen, Czech Republic
Arriving on the day before the show turned out to be a good idea. As part of the festivities to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovakia, an open-air opera performance was given on Pilsen’s central Republic Square. This was combined with a beer and pub night on that Friday evening, resulting for some in a slow start the next morning. Also at the Plzen-Line airfield, where the airshow was celebrated.
The Plzen-Líně airport is located only some kilometers South-West of Pilsen’s city center. Getting there in the early morning was no issue at all, and parking places were well dimensioned. Anyway the event was not promoted as a major airshow, even though it brought together some nice flying displays and lots of entertainment.
A big and interesting part for the fans of warbirds of classic aviation was provided by the locally based “Classic Trainers” club (www.classictrainers.cz).
Celebrating 100 Years of Aviation in Plzen
Maps show the airfield also labelled Dobrany, which is the name of the next bigger city, compared to Line, the small city – you might call it a village – directly adjacent to the airfield. During WW II Pilsen (Plzen), Czechoslovakia was just as many other airfields occupied by the German Luftwaffe. Dobrzan was a field airstrip until the end of the war, when General Pattons Army liberated the city on May 5th, 1945. From 1945 until 1991 it was home of the “5. Stíhací Letecký Pluk” (5. Fighter Aviation Regiment), operating amongst other the MiG-19 and later on the omnipresent workhorse of Warsaw Pact air forces, the MiG-21. Nowadays the Czech Air Force still hosts a small contingent of W-3A Sokol Search & Rescue (SAR) helicopters at Air Rescue Services centre in Line. Of course the W-3A Sokol also gave a flying demonstration during the show. Another flying highlight was the venerable Mil Mi-2 Hoplite helicopter of the Czech Air Force’s CLV Flight Test Centre and its successor, the Enstrom 480B G. As a show of force also two Czech Air Force Saab Gripen also performed a fly-by. The pair was the QRA jets coming in from Caslav during a training flight (on Saturday!).
The fight for Pilsen – WWII Battle Scenario
The highlight of the programme was however a fiction end-of-Second-World-War battle between German and American pilots. There were also be paratroopers and ground troops, a German field camp and an American airport camp with military headquarters and a field kitchen. They had a strong simulated fight, but after the happenings during WW II alsoaround that area in Czechoslovakia it was strange to see re-enactors running around again in German uniforms wearing swastikas… And it seemed that some of the spectators were irritated by it as well.
But coming back to the flying display, the aircraft flying around that ground theatre were the main attraction of the event. There was a Polikarpov Po-2, a Let C-11 – the Czech-build version of the Warsaw Pact trainer Yakolvlev Yak-11, and of course the Classic Trainer warbirds, namely two Harvard Mk.IIa and the Supermarine Spitfire. The main attraction however was the France-based Junkers Ju-52 “Tante Ju”.
Best of the Rest
There was also some aerobatic flying, and a well arranged ground display of aircraft and military vehicles. After all, this Pilsen / Plzeň airshow was a small, but very nice event and a good possibility to see the Classic Trainers and Czech-based warbirds. A downside of the event from a photographers point-of-view that has to be mentioned however is the fact that you are looking into the sun throughout the day. So you should not expect good photos of the flying display, but concentrate on photos on the taxiway in the late afternoon. And, of course, there are always good opportunities to celebrate an after-show event in the Czech Republic.