Czech International Air Fest

Hradec Kralove, 8-9 September 2012


In 1993, the Czech airshow agency, together with the Czech air force, organized the first Czech International Air Fest (CIAF) at what was then the airforce base Hradec Kralove. Like so many other airforces in Europe, the Czech air force also underwent a major restructuring and the base at Hradec Kralove was closed. From 2003 until 2009, the show moved to the airfield at Brno, but since 2010 it is back at the airfield of Hradec Kralove, now a civilian airfield, festival park, corporate office area and car drifting circuit.


With the move to Brno, the show lost its co-organizer, the Czech airforce though. This in turn means the show has a smaller ‘pull’ factor for foreign militaries to participate, a lot of them opting instead to take part in the NATO days at Ostrava, which are organized in cooperation with the Czech airforce. Still, the organizers of CIAF manage to attract some star items from abroad year after year. These military items are combined with a superb civilian line-up, resulting in a wonderfully varied programme. It receives a lot of criticism for not living up to past events, but this criticism disregards changing circumstances for airshows entirely, and the changed situation in the airshow scene in the Czech Republic itself, with shrinking budgets all over Europe and fewer display acts managing ever fewer displays in a season a bit further away from their home countries. The organizers have done a wonderful job adapting to the changes and should be applauded for all the effort they put into the show.


The show itself has a very welcoming and relaxed atmosphere. By Czech standards, it’s not particularly cheap but western visitors would certainly not be deterred by the income price. The city of Hradec Kralove is also well worth a visit and should provide plenty of entertainment and sights after the show is finished. One major thing the location of CIAF has going for it is the wonderful photo opportunitiees, thanks to the almot perfect location of the sun throughout the display, only giving backlight to one side at the very start of the programme in the morning. There are some elevated vantage points on top of bunkers which also provide a different viewing experience.



The 2012 event had many highlights, both static and in the flying programme. The line-up of support aircraft deserves special mention, as the sight of a Lithuanian C-27, a Polish and Czech Casa 295, Belgian C-130, Croatian An-32 alongside a BN2 Islander and Czech Yak 40 is something to behold. Other highlights were the German Seaking in special colour scheme and special Czech paint schemes in the static park.


In the flying programme, there were 2 jet display teams (Baltic Bees and Breitling Jet Team), 2 excellent military turboprop display teams (Orlik and the unrivalled Krila Oluje), 2 foreign military solo jet displays (Belgian F-16 and Slovak Mig-29) in addition to a surprisingly dynamic role demonstration by 2 Czech Gripens and a number of military helicopter displays like the Czech Hind Czech W3 and Polish SW4. Perhaps the most eyecatching civilian act was the AH-1 Cobra in US Army colours, an outstanding addition to the Czech airshow scene. Special mention is also due for the Blanik gliders from Slovakia. With the additional aerobatic acts thrown in for good measure, there was plenty to see for the audience.


2013 will be the 20th edition of CIAF and one can only hope the line-up will be as strong as in 2012.