Friday, 8 July 2016

NATO summit and aerial cavalcade

A busy day in the skies over Jeziorki!

Yesterday evening, Thursday 7 July, saw the arrival of the big boys from America. Living so close to an international airport for so many years, I have developed a good ear for the sound of aircraft engines. So, pottering around my bedroom I knew that something big was drawing in, and so I readied myself with camera by the bedroom window...

First in at quarter to nine was this unique aircraft - the Boeing E-4B, below. The mobile command-and-control centre for the President of the United States, equipped with nuclear button and protected against the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion that would render the electronics of most aircraft useless. Just after midnight, Barack Obama flew in on Air Force One. Eddie and I watched it fly over our house from the balcony, but it was too dark to snap. Eddie remarked how many of the world's leaders have passed just a few hundred metres from our house over the years. Built in 1975, the E-4B Nightwatch is a Cold War survivor still doing its job after four decades' in service.

Today things got busy. Below is a selection of some of the planes I did manage to snap flying into Okęcie... Below: Czech Air Force Airbus A319 CJ (CJ = Corporate Jet).

Below: Danish Air Force Canadair CL-604 Challenger. When not ferrying VIPs, it also serves in a surveillance role.

Below: my personal favourite from today's aerial cavalcade, an Alenia C-27J Spartan 'Blue 6' from the Lithuanian Air Force. I photographed one of these planes looping the loop at the Radom Air Show in 2013. Portlier than the Polish Air Force's CASA C-295s, the Spartan can carry two and quarter tonnes more payload.

Below: new acquired by the Slovakian government, another Airbus A319 CJ. Coming into service last month, it replaces the Tupolev Tu-154 used hitherto. Can't work out the sense of that comic face painted on the rear fuselage...

Below: Spain has a much bigger Airbus for VIP use - the A310. Note the red-yellow-red roundel and diagonal black-cross fin flash - the insignia of Franco's Nationalist air force during the Civil War that survives in use until this day. But then Russia's air force still uses red stars.

Below: the King of Sweden might have at his disposal a diamond car with the platinum wheels, but aloft he prefers the svelte silhouette of a Grumman Gulfstream IV. Note: Sweden is not a member of NATO. Yet.

Below: the Italian government representatives flew in, like the Czechs and Slovaks, in an Airbus A319CJ. The A319 is a short-fuselage version of the A320 that I fly regularly to England.

Below: an RAF KC3 Voyager, converted from an Airbus A330. On board, Prime Minister (still) David Cameron.

I also saw (but didn't manage to snap) the Luftwaffe's Airbus A340, and two French Air Force Dassault Falcons, that flew in one after the other.

The increased interest on the aviation forums brought out new information. I discovered an alternative to FlightRadar24, one that allows you to filter for military aircraft. This website is ADS-B Exchange ( Click on Global Radar View, click on the Menu in top left hand corner of the map, then select Filters (on the right). From the drop-down menu, select Military. And all the commercial traffic disappears... Marvellous for occasions like this (although of course for operational reasons military pilots toggle their ADS-B transponders on or off).

Below: screenshot from, showing a KC-135 circling just north of Częstochowa, allowing aerial refuelling of AWACS airborne early warning aircraft (click to enlarge).

Looking at the map in real time, I can see that Air Force Two has just taken off from Okęcie.

The big flypast of military jets along the Vistula was sadly not visible from Jeziorki. Still, it was a good show today, I hope for some more over the weekend!

This time two years ago:
Ukraine: still an important foreign policy problem for the West 

This time four years ago:
More about Modlin airport

This time seven years ago:
Get on your bike and RIDE!


dr Marcin said...

Excellent stuff Mike.

We, at our village, should exercise some of the toll payments, while some of the VIPs' jets as such pass a corridor over us. What do you think about that? ;)

Michael Dembinski said...

@ dr Marcin

Did you hear of the Raisin Bombers during the Berlin Airlift of 1948/49?

Raisin bombers

Quality mature cheeses from the VIPs' countries of origin would be a good substitute!

dr Marcin said...

Don't you have 'em at Lidl nearby you or Biedronka? :))))

O yeah, shipment up-to your doors... Roger that.

P.S. Me and my family have being to Berlin this year at the beginning of June, so we have gone to the Wall Museum and read about raisin bombers. Frankly saying, I would much prefer to walk to a store and purchase a quality mature cheese in such a way, than being supplied by a distribution chain like an airlift.

Bernd Zimmermann said...

And some more aerial attractions were visible yesterday night above Wisla river:

Bialo-Czerwone Iskry:

Fighter Jets:

Awacs Early Warning Plane, based on B707:

Michael Dembinski said...

@ Bernd:

Great stuff! I really regret not seeing any of the B707-based aircraft; there were five different AWACS and two KC-135s over Poland on Friday/Saturday. I've seen an AWACS landing at Okęcie, and hoped one at least would pop by with a visit...

And good to see the Biało-Czerwone Iskry still on good form - last saw them in Radom in 2013. The Iskra should be cherished as being a Polish-designed airframe with a Polish-designed engine, still in service, 53 years after first flight!