Friday, 23 August 2013

Radom Air Show taster

This morning I got myself into the Most exclusive day of Central Europe's greatest air show - the dress rehearsal day. Blending in with the technical crews setting up this great feast of aviations, I busied myself setting up a display of my scale models of RAF aircraft flown by Polish squadrons in WW2. (In case you're going, head for the big red London double-decker, the new Routemaster, and take a peek inside). This is part of the GREAT campaign, in which the bus visits key places and events around Poland and Central Europe to promote British innovation, enterprise, culture and tourism.

Below, left: display cabinet featuring 25 models representing the Spitfires, Hurricanes, Lancasters, Wellingtons, Mosquitos, Beaufighters, Defiants, as well as other types, that Polish pilots flew from 1940 to 1946. The point I'm making here within this modern London bus in the centre of Poland is that there is that Poles contributed in a very significant way to the Allied victory in the air war against Nazi Germany, flying British-made aircraft.

A petrol station, somewhere outside Radom. A new-style Routemaster (two staircases, three sets of doors) attracted plenty of interest as it headed for the airfield. As we escorted the bus towards the air base, passers-by were reaching for their mobile phones to photograph it. Once at the show, it proved a huge draw; even after the PA announced that the show was closing and everyone should head for the exit, people were still pouring through the bus. Worth noting that other than a tourist bus or two in Warsaw, double-deckers are a rarity in Poland.

But the real action will be in the air. Below: Eurofighter Typhoons were among the fast jets that took to the skies over Radom today, along with F-16s, MiG 29s, Su-22s, Gripens, Tornados and Rafales. VERY loud! PLUS - many trainer types, transport types and helicopters - the sky was full of noise and action.

Below: exciting as modern fast jets are, my own preferences are for warbirds of an earlier era. Below: a Taylorcraft Auster AOP5, representing one flown by 663 (Polish) Squadron. AOP = Air Observation Post; these planes would fly low and slow over enemy artillery positions; the unarmed pilots would radio back their exact location. An extremely dangerous job. This privately-owned AOP5 is beautifully restored and belongs to a group of enthusiasts who commemorate Polish pilots' contribution to the RAF's war effort in WW2.

Below: another of my favourite warbirds, the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair, a mainstay of US Naval and Marine aviation during the Pacific and Korean Wars. Big and brutal, it was a powerful fight and ground-attack aircraft. Energy drink manufacturer Red Bull has done a great job in keeping many magnificent aircraft of the '40s and '50s flying.

Below: An RAF BAE Systems Hawk trainer. A regular summer holiday sight for me as Hawks from RAF Valley on the Welsh island of Anglesey train over the Llyn Peninsula.I hope the Polish air force will buy these planes to train its future fast-jet pilots on.

There will be more, far more from the Radom Air Show on Sunday night. I'm sure I'll catch many fine shots of interesting aircraft types engaged in.

Left: a French air force Eurocopter EC725 Caracal, winching troops from the ground. Eurocopter, Sikorsky and AgustaWestland are all looking to sell their helicopters to the Polish armed forces. I'm rooting for AgustaWestland for patriotic reasons.

I've not been to the Radom Air Show since 2005; after spending the day setting up my display I only got to see a fraction of what's on show here, so I look forward to seeing it all, this time as a spectator.

This time last year:
Restricting passenger movement and safety

This time two years ago:
Seasonal fruit - eat it in bulk, while you can!

This time four years ago:
Russia-Polish 'unification', 1939-style

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