NATO Days, 2017

September 16 and 17 saw the annual NATO Days public show at Ostrava, in the north east of the Czech Republic.

The weather was largely wet and overcast when I attended on the Saturday. As such, the flying displays were affected adversely. This included the scheduled display by the Saudi Hawks team, who ultimately cancelled their saturday performance due to poor visibility and safety concerns.

As has been the practice of NATO Days for the past few years, a special co-host nation was chosen; Slovakia was that nation this year and they brought a good selection of air and land gear with them.

At that, here’s a sampling of what was on hand at this year’s show:

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This CF-18 Hornet in the static park marked the first time Canada sent an aircraft to the NATO Days event. This Hornet came from 433 Squadron.
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The F-16 is a standard NATO Days attendee. These ones were courtesy of the Netherlands.
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Lithuania brought three aircraft for the statics, including this Eurocopter AS365.
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Among the equipment Slovakia presented at the event was their newest air asset, the Sikorsky UH-60M Blackhawk.
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Parked next to the Blackhawk was the stalwart Mil Mi-17; this one in the colours of the Slovak Government Flying Service.
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Also in the Slovak section of the static park was this Fokker 100.
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This Dornier Do-228NG, equipped for aerial survey and monitoring work, came courtesy of the German navy.
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This was as close as anyone came to seeing the Saudi Hawks team on Saturday.
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An increasingly rare sight in European skies is the Yakovlev Yak-40. The Czech air force has two and they are scheduled to be replaced in the next year or two.
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A NATO Days standard, which was sadly absent at the 2016 edition, was the Slovak air force MiG-29 display. It was great to see it return this year.
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One of my very few presentable flying shots from the day was this Slovak A319 Airbus display.
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Adding a bit of vintage to the show was this restored two seat MiG-15 which flies on the Czech civil register.
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Medlánky Oldtimer Weekend, 2017

September 9th of 2017 saw me out to the Brno-Medlánky airport, on the north side of Brno, to attend an Oldtimer Weekend event hosted by the Medlánky Aeroclub.

Medlánky is a sailplane airport in the main, so there were quite a few rare and vintage Czech sailplanes to get up close to and watch perform.

I’d been meaning to attend one of these events for a long time and I’m very happy I finally managed to get out to one. I’ll certainly be going back when they have others.

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This is one of a few Zlín Z-25 Šohaj sailplanes that were on hand for the day. The Šohaj is a Czech design that first flew in 1947 and was made in three versions. This picture is the Šohaj 3.
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Another Czech product is the Let LF-109 Pionýr, which first flew in 1950.
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Looking down the line of vintage gliders in the morning light.
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Another Czech type on display was the Orličan VT-116 Orlík II. The Orlík family of sailplanes dates to 1959. 
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A true rarity is this L-13 B Bačostroj. It’s an experimental single seat motorised version of the L-13 Blaník. Only one L-13 B exists.
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A pleasant surprise visitor was this rare Aero Ae-45S. The Ae-45 family was the first Czech aircraft designed after WWII and it first flew in 1947. Worldwide, only a handful still fly. Here, it taxis towards the line of vintage gliders shortly after arriving.
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The Let L-23 Super Blaník is a descendant design of the famous L-13 Blaník sailplane. The L-23 first flew in 1988.
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One of two Zlín Z-24 Krajáneks on hand at the event. The Z-24 was a Czech built variation of the German designed Schneider Grunau Baby IIb which first flew in 1931.
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Another Czech rarity was the VSB-62 Vega. It first flew in 1966 and only one was ever made.
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The Letov LF-107 Luňák is a Czech aerobatics sailplane dating to 1948.
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What would a Czech sailplane exhibition be without the inimmitable Let L-13 Blaník? Here’ an L-13 AC comes in to land.
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The Scheibe Bergfalke III is a German design which first flew in 1951.

Kunovice Air Museum – 2017 Update

Following up on my visit to the open day event hosted by the Kunovice Air Museum and Slovácký Aeroklub last weekend, I’ve put together this summary of some of the more visible progress that the museum has made between my last visit, in autumn of 2016, and now:

Bringing in the New 

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Public roll out of the Museum’s newest exhibit, the Let/Zlín Z-37 TM.

The museum used the open day event to give the public their first view of the newest addition to the museum collection, a freshly restored Let/Zlín Z-37 TM.

The Z-37 TM is a truly one of a kind aircraft that you won’t see anywhere else. In the mid 1980s, a Z-37 T agricultural aircraft was modified for testing the type’s suitability for military close support missions. The tests were unsuccessful and the aircraft was reverted to agricultural configuration and returned to cropdusting work.

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The Z-37 TM in autumn of 2016, shortly after arrival from Hungary.

After several years of flying on the Czech Register as OK-PJD, the aircraft was transfered to Hungary and languished in outdoor storage there.

In recent years, the museum has successfully worked towards locating and returning the precise aircraft used in the Z-37 TM tests to the Czech lands for restoration.

Over the break between the end of the 2016 season and start of the 2017 season, museum workers have transformed the faded and tired looking assemblage of components that they brought back from Hungary into a first rate restoration of a unique and not so well known chapter of Czech aviation history.

The Nagano Express

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The “Nagano Express”, standing on her own legs in 2017.

The big story of both 2015 and 2016 for the museum was the mind-boggling logistics and bureaucracy of securing and transporting a former Czech air force Tupolev Tu-154 airliner from Prague to Kunovice. This particular airliner was named “Nagano Express” as it was used to fly the gold medal winning Czech hockey team home from the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan

Through a lot of weekend trips to Prague by museum volunteers over a two year period to prepare the aircraft for dismantlement and ground transport and the most successful, to date, internet crowdfunding project in the Czech Republic to ensure not only the costs of transport but many costs relating to further restorations, the aircraft arrived at Kunovice in September of 2016 and placed on supports by a pair of cranes.

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“Nagano Express” upon arrival at Kunovice in 2016.

As one would expect of a larger aircraft, work on the “Nagano Express” will take some time to complete.

Since arriving in Kunovice, the aircraft’s inner wing sections with main landing gear units have been attached and she’s now off support blocks and standing on her own three landing gear legs.

Additionally, the aircraft’s vertical tail fin has been attached and I have no doubt that quite a bit of internal work has also taken place since arrival in 2016.

Meeting an Old Friend 

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Zlín Z-126, OK-IFG, on display in the museum in 2017.

During the 2014 season opening day at the museum, I purchased a sight seeing flight in a 1954 vintage Zlín Z-126 training aircraft known as OK-IFG on the Czech civil register.

OK-IFG and I spent 20 minutes or so flying over the local countryside and a couple of the more well known tourist attraction of the area. I even got about five minutes of “stick time” controling the aircraft.

After being built in 1954, OK-IFG spent much of the earlier part of her flying career in the Olomouc flying club. She was put in storage for an approximate ten year period before being brought back to flying status in the late 1970s or early 1980s.

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Myself and OK-IFG just after landing in spring of 2014.

OK-IFG spent the bulk of her later flying years in the hands of the Slovácký Aeroklub in Kunovice and was eventually painted in  pseudo-military colours.

All aircraft must stop flying at some point and OK-IFG was struck from the register in early 2015 and given to the museum by the flying club.

The 2017 open day was the first time I’d seen OK-IFG since the 2014 flight. While her paint is looking rather faded, she looks quite solid and well looked after in all other aspects.

The Fresh Look is No Ilyushin 

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Refinished section of the Avia Av-14’s interior.

One of the museum’s longer term and most visible residents is the Avia Av-14 transport, the Czechoslovak license built version of the Ilyushin Il-14, that greets visitors just inside the museum’s entry gate.

Through the 2016-2017 off-season, museum workers gave the aircraft’s VIP configured interior a much needed refurbishment. Everything from the passenger cabin to the kitchen, lavatory and flight crew stations was refreshed.

For many years, the interiors were looking tired. Upholstery and carpets were looking tattered, faded, stained or otherwise less than presentable while the kitchen, lavatory and flight crew stations all needed a good clean up and fresh paint in places.

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The passenger cabin seen in 2016, prior to refurbishment.

Walking through the aircraft interior in 2017, the visitor is presented with a much cleaner and brighter look that befits a VIP.

Fresh carpets, uphostery and paint are in and years of dreariness are out. The flight crew stations look appropriate to an aircraft that is still in service and awaiting the next mission.

Also important ot note. Improvements to the Av-14 didn’t stop with the interiors, both propellors got a much needed fresh coat of paint in the off-season.

Bombing Up 

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Cold War era bombs presented on a new concrete platform for the 2017 season.

Another long term exhibit at the museum is a selection of Cold War era bombs that sit between a pair of Sukhoi Su-7 strike aircraft and represent weapons typically carried by that aircraft type in service.

Prior to the 2016 season, when the bombs recieved a much needed restoration and repaint, they were a said sight indeed. Up until then, they had all been showing signs of corrosion and were positioned in a rather haphazard arrangement between the aircraft.

In 2016, after the repaint, they were arranged in a more orderly fashion based on size. However, they were still sat upon some unpresentable and deteriorating wooden loading pallets.

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The bombs in 2016. The repaint done and waiting for the concrete.

Happily, the 2017 season sees the collection of bombs presented on a very nice, new block of concrete that fits their recently refreshed appearances.

I have no idea what the plans for the Sukhois either side of the bombs are, but the only thing that could make the bombs look better would be to freshen their associated aircraft.

I hope one day to see that happen.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this update of the Kunovice air museum. In the near future I will be updating my main article on the facility.

Kunovice Military Day, 2017

Yesterday saw me pay my first visit of 2017 to the Kunovice Aviation Museum in the south east of the Czech Republic.

The museum and local flying club organised a special event called Military Day. The day invloved exhibitions of Second World war uniforms and equipment by historical reenactment clubs, tactical demonstrations by the Czech army, rescue and fire fighting demonstrations by airport emergency services, sightdeeing flights by the flying club and the roll out of a newly restored aircraft in the museum’s collection.

It was also a chance to see a lot of locally designed and built aircraft as Kunovice has, for many years, been a significant centre of Czech aircraft production.

The event was much more than the advertising led me to expect and I was astounded by the scale of it and it was a real challenge to choose just 12, that’s my rule for myself when making primarily photographic posts, pictures to give you a taste of the event.

I sincerely hope the museum and flying club will be making this an annual event, it’s worth it!

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The Evektor EV-55 Outback is a locally designed and built twin turboprop design.
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Another local product is the BRM Aero Bristell ultralight. I took a 30 minute sightseeing ride on this very one.
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Flying over the Morava river and Baťa canal, two prominent features of the Slovácko region of which Kunovice is a part.
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The turnaround point of the flight was the Zlín aircraft factory in the small city of Otrokovice. Zlín has been a presence in Czech aviation since the 1930s.
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This Beech Duke from the German register was available for close inspection.
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Not born in Kunovice, though still a proudly Czech product, this Tatra fire engine from the airport fire brigade arrives.
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An Aero C-104, a Czech variation of the German Bucker Bu-131 Jungmann trainer.
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A Zlín 381, a Czech version of the Bucker Bu-181 Bestmann trainer.
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Roll out of the museum’s freshly restored Let/Zlín Z-37 TM for public viewing. The Z-37 TM was an experiment in the mid 1980s to test the suitability of the Z-37 T agricultural plane for military close support missions. The experiments were unsuccessful and the prototype was returned to agricultural service and found its way onto the Hungarian civil register. In recent years, the museum located and recovered the aircraft and brought it home for restoration.
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The Slovak governmental Tupolev Tu-154 did a few low overflights of the museum. This was one of the last chances to see a Slovak Tu-154 in action, after this weekend they will be retired.
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Another local product, this Let L-23 Super Blaník made a few low passes over the exhibition site.
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Looking at the museum and army demonstration area beyond from atop the airport fire brigade’s cherry picker vehicle.