Historical Airshow sees big turnout

Jan Antonín Baťa's plane, a B-25J Mitchell and a MiG 15 were among the highlights

Thousands of fans of vintage airplanes had a treat June 11 with the 11th annual Historical Airshow 2016 (11. Dobový Letecký Den) at Mladá Boleslav .

The day began with arrivals of aircraft, including a Russian-made Mi-24 attack helicopter. The Mi-24 was among the nosier arrivals. The helicopter with its extended arms carrying mounted weapons and its unwieldy looking main cabin for eight people was one of the more frightening aircraft.

Many aircraft were already on the ground by 9 a.m., including some wood and canvas planes, biplanes and other aircraft from before and during World War I.

The historical aircraft went on to go through World War II and the Cold War, with Soviet planes well represented. A couple of promised planes including the P-40 Kittyhawk could not participate due to technical problems.

There were also vintage military vehicles from the US, Germany, Soviet Union some other countries along with costumed people doing there best to look authentic. As was true to history, some children in uniform also manned some of the defenses. A few dogs also got into the act.

The vehicles took to the airfield when appropriate historical planes were flying.

Many planes had vintage markings, such as hand-painted pinup girls as logos and catchy names in decorative lettering. One plane was called “The Redhead.” Some planes also had crosses or other marks indicating the number of planes that were shot down.

The flying began around 1 p.m., with clouds making for dramatic pictures.

A simulated World War I dogfight using large-scale remote control planes was one of the early highlights, with explosions simulating ground fire.

But the noise of the battle was nothing compared to the jet engine roar of the JAS 39 Gripen, which made several low passes over the Mladá Boleslav Airport. The Swedish-made jet's double triangle silhouette was clearly visible when the plane made turns in the sky. The Gripen is currently used by the Czech Air Force.

That was followed quickly by formation flying by a team called Follow Me. They had four brightly colored Zlin Z-226 aircraft. The planes were made from 1948 to 1977 by Czechoslovakian manufacturer Moravan. They flew some patterns in very close formation and did some loops and circles.

Two biplanes, both Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann types, also did formation flying, leaving smoke trails. These planes began service in 1935 in Germany and were used up to 1968 by the Spanish military. Many of them were made at the Aero plant in Prague. The planes in the airshow had civilian color patterns in red and blue.

For Czech history buffs, the next plane was significant because of its original owner. The Lockheed Model 10 Electra that was flown by shoe magnate Jan Antonín Baťa had been restored in 2015 to its original state, including its markings. The plane, serial number 1091, has a long history, and was at one time even used by marijuana smugglers before it was confiscated by police. A child film star, Margaret O'Brien, also owned it and later it was used by the Navajo nation of Native Americans. It was sold for scrap to a Texas physician in the 1970s.

On the ground now, it looks factory new and in the air it made easy loops around the field, showing no signs of its troubled past.

The big hit on the ground was B-25J Mitchell, one of the larger planes on show. This particular one had markings for its sponsor, Red Bull. This particular model was stripped of its weapons. But still had its distinctive glass windows over the nose, and it bomb bay doors were open.

In the air it also pleased the crowd as it was one of the bigger planes in the show and quite agile.

Two bigger planes were a surprise. An ATR 42 owned by Czech Airlines and a Boeing 737 owned by Travel Service both made several low passes over the airfield.

The later part of the show saw coordinated stunts by the the Flying Bulls, sponsored by Red Bull. The four pilots flew ExtremeAir XA 42 planes in a series of increasingly spectacular stunts, including drawing a heart in the air, as well as going straight up and seeming to fall out of the sky.

Later planes included the MiG 15, a Soviet-era jet that flew so fast only skilled photographers could get a good picture. 

Somebody not to miss at the event: Martin Šonka and his fantastic acrobatic airshow with his EXTRA 330L plane.

The show wound down with World War I-era planes as well as a very early plane by Metoděj Vlach, the first Czech plane maker.

Several of the planes from earlier show including the B-25J Mitchell, P-51 Mustang and Yak-3M took to the air for the finale.

Fotos of the event: Prague.TV - Facebook page

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