Poznan Air Show 2018
by Giorgio Varisco
Poznan-Lawica airport, the civilian airport in Poznan, Poland, hosted the Poznan Air Show over the weekend of May 19th/20th this year. While the highlight of the show was the attendance of several tiger-themed active military aircraft, due to the NATO ‘Tiger Meet‘ taking place simultaneously at the nearby Poznan-Krzesiny military airport, the show did host several warbirds and vintage aircraft.
The PZL-Mielec TS-11 Iskra (Spark), which first flew in 1960, was the first jet aircraft designed and manufactured entirely in Poland. It is a tandem-seat military trainer, comparable to contemporary NATO aircraft such as the Italian Aermacchi MB.326 or the French Fouga Magister. The type competed to become the standard Warsaw Pact jet trainer, but lost out to the Czechoslovakia’s Aero L-29 Delfin. Other than serving within the Polish armed forces, the Iskra had only one export customer, with 76 examples going to the Indian Air Force. A small number still serve in the Polish Air Force, including the Bialo-Czerwone Iskry display team, but the Aermacchi M.346 will soon replace it.
The Iskra which attended the show is a civilian-owned example belonging to the Fundacja Bialo-Czerwone Skrzydla (Red-and-White Wings Foundation), a group devoted to restoring and flying historically-important Polish aircraft. It rolled off the production line in 1974 and flew with the Polish Air Force until 2004. The Foundation acquired her in 2013, and began flying the trainer a year later.
The Foundation also flew a PZL-Mielec-built Antonov An-2, the latest addition to their collection, which launched a group of aerobatic parachutists and flew some passes in formation with three AT-3 ultralights, also owned by the Foundation.
The MiG-15UTI trainer depicted above was built by Aero Vodochody in Czechoslovakia during 1955, and it served in the Polish Air Force until 1990. In 1994, an American business man acquired her and moved the aircraft to California. She flew on the US air show circuit until 2013, when Czech Flying Legends brought the diminutive jet back to Europe. They repainted her in the livery of a Czechoslovakian Air Force example.
The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Boomerang was the first combat aircraft developed and built entirely in Australia. Before World War Two, the Royal Australian Air Force relied heavily upon British and American fighter types. However, the outbreak of war made it next to impossible to maintain a reliable supply line from overseas, so the Australian government ordered the local manufacture of an indigenous design based upon the CAC Wirraway, itself based upon the North American NA-16 trainer. While the Boomerang was not as capable as opposing Japanese fighters, it performed well in the ground attack role.
The aircraft which attended the show was re-built in 1991 and is actually a modified T-6 Texan, incorporating original Boomerang parts from several airframes to create a convincing replica of the Boomerang. It was the first warbird example to represent the type, although there are now a handful of ‘original’ Boomerangs flying. She depicts an aircraft which served with RAAF 4 Squadron when stationed in New Guinea. She has been on the European air show circuit since 2015.
When speaking about WWII fighters, one of the first aircraft which comes to mind is undoubtedly the mighty Supermarine Spitfire. So obviously, a Spit’ couldn’t have been missing at this air show! The attending aicraft was Stephen Stead’s 1945-built Spitfire LF Mk.XVIe TE184. Interestingly, while TE184 flew in previous appearances with the iconic elliptical wings the type is so famous for, this year the aircraft sports clipped wings.
The Yakovlev Yak-3 is considered one of the best Soviet fighters of World War Two. Famously used by the French-manned Normandie-Niemen Regiment on the Eastern Front, it was considered a better fighter than even the P-51 or Spitfire by French ace Marcel Albert.
This aircraft is actually a replica built in 2002 by the Romanian company Avione Cariova and propelled by a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engine, making it looking similar to the post-war Yak-3U variant (propelled with a Shvetsov radial engine instead of the usual Klimov V12 engine).
The Pterodactyl Flight is an aerial demonstration team which reenacts World War I battles flying scaled-down ultralight replicas built by the Czech company Pterodactyl Ltd.
At the air show they simulated a dogfight which pitted a replica RAF S.E.5 and a Morane-Saulnier MS-185 (actually a 1930s design) against two replica Fokker Dr.I triplanes, one of which was painted to represent an aircraft flown by the legendary German ace, Baron Manfred von Richthofen, aka the “Red Baron”.
All in all, the Poznan Air Show was a marvelous affair, and while it’s warbird content was relatively small, it was great to see these aircraft in the skies over Poland.
WarbirdsNews wishes to thank Giorgio Varisco for this air show report!