English translation by Frank McMeiken
Once again, this year the Aeroclub at Varazdin, 80 km north of Zagreb, organised its traditional Air Show, which saw the participation of Croatian and foreign civilian and military aircraft.
Amongst the historic aircraft, Yak 11 D-FJII could be admired, recovered from Egypt in the mid-eighties, its 580 hp Shvetson engine making an impressive noise. Other stars were a Beechcraft C 45 with much nose art and a classic Soko G 2A Galeb, which recreated the atmosphere of the former Yugoslavia with an impeccable display that was met with much applause.
Amongst the private aircraft displays that stood out was that of the Extra 300 Twister flown by Croatian aerobatic pilot Branimir Ambrekovic.
The Helicopterska Jedinica of the Police displayed an EC135 and an AB 212 in a very dynamic anti-terrorist operational scenario.
During the event the CSG company, which assists and trains Black Hawk operators, proposed the S 70 as a substitute for the Soviet era helicopters still in front line service with the former Warsaw Pact nations. The Black Hawk on static display carried the insignia of the Slovak air force, the most recent customer for the American helicopter.
Fast jets from the various air forces participating in the show flew flypasts or aerobatic displays without landing on the runway which, although more than 2,000 metres in length, lacked some of the essential safety features to support their operation; these included a Typhoon from the Royal Air Force, a Hungarian Air Force Gripen, a Spanish F-18, and an Austrian Saab 105OE.
The Polish Air Force took part with two PZL “Orlik” from the 42.BLSz, while Slovenia contributed a Pc 9M from nearby Cerklje.
The participation of the local air force, the Hrvhatske Zracne Snagem, was highly anticipated; a Mig 21UMD of the 91.ZB flew an aerobatic programme that was amongst the best that this now obsolete fighter has to offer, while two single seat Mig 21D (D meaning modified) flew a fast pass on their return to Pleso following a training scramble. An AT 802F in an unusual two-seat version demonstrated its fire-fighting capabilities.
The Croatian “Wings of Storm” aerobatic team display at Varazdin, led by L.tn Darko Belancic, and spectators were able to appreciate the excellent stability of the formation of Pilatus Pc 9M. However, the real highlight of CIAV 2018 was the presentation of the recently acquired Bell OH 58D Kiowa by the 93.ZB, cooperating with transport helicopter operations. In this case a Mil Mi 8MTV offloaded special forces under the protection of the 12.7 mm machine guns and LAU68 rocket launchers of the two Kiowa. The acquisition of the new machines, drawn from United States Army stocks, dates from 2016, and was facilitated by the presence in the HZS of a few AB 206B, which from a piloting point of view are very similar. A contract to equip the Kiowa with AGM-114 “Hellfire” has already been signed. The OH 58D, besides being the aircraft most photographed by the spotters, raised much curiosity amongst the visitors due to the large sphere located on top of the rotor mast, containing the optical Mast-Mounted Sight (MMS).
Images and text by Elio Viroli and Stenio Bacciocchi
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini