|When most people think of an airshow at Gdynia, they think of the airshow ĎAerobalticí. This year however, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the air wing at the 43rd base at Babie-Doly, there was a second one, and one with lots of interesting hardware!
Polish navy displays are few and far-between at airshows, so when the line-up was announced for the show at Babie-Doly, it immediately peaked interest with enthusiasts around Europe.
Entrance to the event was free, and there was a paying shuttle service from the station, though in practice this turned out to be free. As each bus was rammed with people, checking tickets would have been impossible. The return trip was a proper nightmare though: there was no queue for the buses transporting people off the base, which meant it was a rush when buses arrived. A waiting time of 90 minutes was no exception! A few fences to create an orderly queue would certainly have made a world of difference.
On base, there was an interesting static display with vehicles and SAM-systems, but also showing the wide variety of aircraft in use with Polish armed forces. Highlights were of course the Polish navy aircraft like the SH-2 and Mi-14, the latter in 3 different colour schemes, but also several army helicopters and airforce planes ranging in size from the F-16 to the C-130. The US army also joined with an AH-64 Apache.
There were no fences around the static so people could climb all over the static aircraft or go onboard with the aircrews who were only too happy to talk about their aircraft and pose for pictures. Behind the crowd area for the air display was a limited selection of sales stands, including squadron tents and deliciously-smelling catering.
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The crowd was positioned parallel to the runway, but quite far away from it. In fact, all aircraft appeared to display quite far away, which in case of the SAR-demonstration by the W-3 of the Navy or the role demo by the pair of army W-3s made them lose impact. Most of the afternoon I stayed dry, but sadly during the army helicopter demos and the finale with the White & Red Sparks in their full composition. There was also a civilian display, Artur Kielak with his XA-41, which was supposed to be a pairís display with the Mig-29 but this was not possible as the Migs are still grounded. Other air force displays were the F-16 Tiger demo team and the SU-22 pairís role demo.
For foreign enthusiasts, the highlight were two navy displays, the SH-2 Seasprite putting on an energetic solo routine showing off its superb handling, and the Mi-14, which was shown majestically in different configurations.
While it may have been a relatively small show, the quality of the displays was superb, albeit a little distant. One can only hope the Polish navy shows itself more regularly to the public.
|Report by Chris Janssens
Lay-out and content by Chris Janssens, 2005 - present