The SU-27 Flanker, MiG-21 LanceR and MiG-29 Fulcrum are apart from being three Cold War warriors and rare Russian-build jets three excellent airshow acts that you can hardly argue about. For its 2016 edition the Slovak International Airshow at Sliac, Slovakia, promised them, and delivered! Combined with many other flying displays these former Warsaw Pact aircraft highlighted a more than sunny airshow.
Where? Sliac, Slovakia
That last week-end in August 2016 in Sliac, Slovakia was spend under a clear blue and sunny sky, which was just perfect for a great airshow. Apart from the Slovak Air Force the main highlights were the Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker, Romanian MiG-21 LanceR and the Spanish display team Patrulla Aguilla. Already the arrival of the Ukrainian participants was rather cool when two SU-27 Flanker arrived in formation with an Antonov An-26. Their height above the runway can only be estimated, but it was rather close and well hidden behind the fence from the outside.
Of course the SIAF at Sliac is always a big showcase for the Slovak Air Force.
Slovak Air Force MiG-29 Fulcrums in Sliac
As in previous years a focus of the flying program have been the aircraft of the Slovak Air Force, first and foremost the venerable MiG-29 with the much anticipated solo display. The smile on the face of the Slovakian MiG-29 display pilot when he taxied out for his demonstration showed clearly that the crews are still very proud to present their Fulcrums to the public.
Ukrainian Air Force Su-27 Flanker
The Ukrainian Air Force 831 Tactical Aviation Brigade (TrBA), based at Myrhorod / Mirgorod, brought two Su-27 Flankers and an Antonov An-26 support aircraft to Sliac. Whereas the Antonov brought an extensive selection of memorabilia and the Su-27UB twin-seater was available in the static display to take a seat in the cockpit, the single-seater flew a great display. Twice it presented to ‘tail-sitting’ cobra maneuver and of course the new ‘pixel camouflage’ looked stunning against the blue sky!
Slovak Air Force Displays at SIAF 2016
Slovak Air Force aircraft missing in this year were the Antonov An-26 and the governmental Tupolev Tu-154. Both aircraft have been retired only very recently and did not show up for a final farewell at the show. It would have been a great idea to flown a ‘farewell formation’ of the Tu-154 and the A319 at the show. But decisions for retirement sometimes happens faster than foreseen and the two types thus did not show anymore. As a compensation the A319 was presented during a QRA demo and “forced to land” by the MiGs at Sliac. At one point it really seemed as if the A319 wanted to land as the fly-by was flown that low! After a second turn it really touched down and flew off again.
The L-39 Albatros solo display was performed with the aircraft wearing the special marking to celebrate Slovak (actually Czechoslovakian at that time) aviation legend Otto Smik.
Also new in this year was a two-ship formation of the Let L-410 transport aircraft. Their pilots even wore “L-410 display team” patches. Flying such aircraft in formation was a great change compared to jet displays and presented their aircraft in previously unseen angles.
Busy were also the helicopters. The Mil Mi-17 executed some firefighting, other helicopters were in the air for the demonstration of Search and Rescue (SAR) tasks as well as during a police demo for law enforcement.
Radio publicity also announced the MiG-15, MiG-21 and MiG-29. The MiG-15 was the MiG-15UTI of the Czech Flying Legends and the MiG-21 a Romanian LanceR. The three generation performed a ‘generation formation’, however this was unfortunately more or less a fly-by with each aircraft following the other at a safe distance. However the famous “Tiger” MiG-29UB 1301 participated in this fly-by.
Romanian Air Force MiG-21 LanceR at the Airshow
The Romanian MiG-21 LanceR is also at the twilight of its career. The LanceR’s appearance with a flying display was thus more than welcome, especially as the arrow-shaped silhouette and the striking ‘bump’ when engaging the afterburner was once a familiar sight and sound in the Slovakian sky.
Color in the sky was also brought by several aerobatic performances. Top aerobatic pilots such as Zoltán Veres or Jurgis Kairys entertained the crowd, and the Flying Bulls Aerobatics Team flew for the first time their new XtremeAir XA4 2, which replaced the Zlin Z-50LX.
Not to Forget of the Patrulla Aguilla Display Team of the Spanish Air Force.
Further foreign participation came from Belgium with the F-16 Solo Display (www.f-16demo.be) and the Czech Air Force Saab Gripen.
SIAF 2016 Static Display at Sliac
SIAF 2016 was a colorful and mixed event. Even if the program seemed a bit sparse, there was always something to see and small breaks in the flying display gave time to stroll around the static display.
Apart from many interesting exhibits there were many places to get great foods and tasty drinks, especially with the prevailing temperatures. You cannot beat a cool beer on a sunny Saturday morning to get real Slovakian airshow mood…
With the scratching of the Mi-24 Hind from the Slovak Air Force inventory some years ago and now the An-26 and the Tu-154, replacements in form of the C-27J Spartan, UH-60 Blackhawk and Airbus A319 are ordered, already delivered or on the horizon. It becomes evident that the Slovak Air Force is on the way to a modernized air arm, using modern equipment, however even in smaller numbers than it has seen in the past. The near future will tell what will happen to the remaining MiG-29s, that still soldier on. With that uncertain future this year’s SIAF under a gorgeous sunny blue sky has been once again a great celebration of the Slovak Air Force. Combined with many other flying displays it couldn’t have been better!