A fairly new airshow on the calendar each year is the Athens Flying Week in Greece. The organisers again managed to get a formation jet team for the pre-show sea-side event and a nice line-up for the main airshow at Tatoi Airport. Report and photos by George Karavantos
On 12-13 September 2015, the 4th Athens Flying Week (AFW) airshow took place at Tatoi Airport, a former military airbase near Athens. Despite the fact that the airshow is quite new to all Greeks, and that the financial problems of Greece affect almost everything, nearly 50.000 visitors attended and took the opportunity to witness this unique spectacle up close.
During the events, many participants, domestic but also foreign, were presented in this aviation fest. There were interesting attractions from all kinds covering almost every aspect of aviation. From frontline fighter jets, formation display teams and military helicopters to aerobatic planes, gliders, and even remote controlled aircraft. Overall the show was able to fulfill each and everyone’s desires in terms of preferences and interests.
The Hellenic Air Force's two display teams "Zeus" and "Daedalus" performed on both airshow days. Also, this year the HAF had given approval for the participation by the two other fighter types in its inventory. On both days, two Mirage 2000s and two F-4E Phantom IIs demonstrated simulated dogfights and bombing raids respectively. Despite flying at high altitudes, both were incredibly good displays.
The Hellenic Army sent the Greek Apache demo team named "Pegasus" to perform. The Hellenic Navy participated with two helicopters, an AB-212 and a S-70B Aegean Hawk, and simulated a navy seal raid with airborne cover.
From abroad, the Polish Air Force was a major contributor to the flying display sending its MiG-29 solo demonstration and also the aerobatic team Orlik with eight PZL-130 turboprop trainers. The other F-16 solo display was the Belgian Air Force F-16 Demo.
There were also two other smaller civil aerobatic teams, both of them from Italy. The first to perform was Blu Circe, with four FL-100 light aircraft flown by former Italian Air Force pilots. The second was We Fly!, a very special team as the three modified Texan Top Class aircraft are flown by pilots who are disadvantaged with reduced mobility.
For aerobatics, the famous world champion Jurgis Kairys with his Su-31 was again present and gave an amazing display. The Lithuanian aerobatic pilot is also an aeronautical engineer, Kairys worked with Sukhoi for the development of Sukhoi’s propeller aerobatic aircraft family. New to the show was Mikael Brageot from France, flying an Extra 330SC for Breitling. But the star of the show was the American couple Pemberton with Rex free-falling in his modified wingsuit, and his wife Melissa, one of the world’s best aerobatic female pilots, circling around him in her Edge 540 during his descent. After his landing she was continuing her show presenting an amazing display to all the spectators. Just prior to appearing in Greece, Melissa had taken the fourth place in the 2015 world female championship of unlimited aerobatics which took place in Chateauroux, France.
There were two glider displays this year. The famous, world champion in glider aerobatics, Luca Bertossio is a regular of AFW. The second was Johan Gustaffson with his uniquely modified glider. Gustafsson gave an incredible display on Saturday afternoon during sunset with his glider full of LED lights, and using the pyrotechnics attached to his glider. The combination produced an awesome sight.
At the airport there is a big private collection of rare vintage aircraft, most of them in flying condition. So this year, the visitors had the chance to see two of them in flight. Flying were a 1937-built Storch and a Bücker 133 trainer, while another classic was on static display, the PBY Catalina. The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, was a light STOL liaison aircraft which first flew in 1936 and was used by the Germans during World War II in a variety of roles. This aircraft is most known for its role in operation Eiche, when a Luftwaffe Storch was used for the escape of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from Campo Imperatore, high in the Apennine mountains in central Italy.
Aegean Airlines the major air carrier of Greece along with Olympic Air, its subsidiary company, had many surprises for the visitors of the show. On Saturday a Dash 8-Q400 flew two low passes along with the demo T-6 "Daedalus" and on Sunday an Airbus A320 did the same in formation with the demo F-16 "Zeus". While during the preshow at Faliro, two days prior to the main airshow, the Airbus A320 flew a tight formation with the aerobatic team Saudi Hawks over the seaside of Athens. After this low fly-past, the Saudis performed a full display to all the people who had gathered at the coast.
Despite its young age and its size today, the Athens Flying Week can be compared with other bigger and better known shows in Europe like Rome or Malta. Although Greece is facing big problems with its economy, the hospitality and the enthusiasm of the people who organize the show reveal a great will to overcome any kind of problems and transform this small event into a great established airshow.
Report and photos by George Karavantos ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 1 October 2015
1 Oct 2015 Added logo, link