Air Show Report : Athens Flying Week 2019
Athens Flying Week 2019 - Tanagra, Greece
George Karavantos provides his photo report from the Athens Flying Week 2019 Air Show at Tanagra air base.
For the 8th edition since its beginning, the Athens Flying Week air show was once again held at Tanagra, home of the Greek Mirage 2000s. The 2019 air show attracted around 40,000 spectators during the third weekend of September to admire the aerobatic displays.
Hellenic Armed Forces
The Athens Flying Week’s main attraction was and always will be the great diversity of the air assets from all the Hellenic Armed Forces, especially the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) that supports the air show, not only by hosting it at Tanagra, but also by participating with multiple displays. Both HAF solo display teams, “Zeus” with the F-16C and “Daedalus” with the T-6A, performed exceptional displays on both days of the show. The attending public was rewarded by the presence of many different aircraft of the air arms.
Two F-4E Phantoms of 338 Squadron (the only surviving Phantom squadron) flew in from Andravida air base to simulate a low altitude airfield attack (low apex) on Tanagra Air Base. Once again, a Mirage 2000BGM from 332 Squadron based at Tanagra engaged with a 330 Squadron F-16C Block 30 from Volos performing a simulated dogfight act at low altitude. All the above mentioned fighters also flew a formation low pass over the field before starting their display.
Among other Hellenic Armed Forces aircraft was again the Apache "Pegasus" Demo of the Hellenic Army Aviation, showing off the Apache’s agility. The Hellenic Air Force CL-415 fire fighting aircraft along with a nowadays very rare, PZL M-18BS Dromader aircraft once again participated to water bomb the runway of Tanagra, which cooled off the hot tarmac as the temperatures got really high during the show. The Fire Department also demonstrated its Super Puma, which also made a water drop using the bucket that it was carrying.
The Hellenic Navy took again part in AFW 2019, this time not just with one or two types but upping its participation to three! Besides the two naval helicopters, the AB-212 ASW and the S-70B Aegean Hawk, the Hellenic Navy presented its upgraded P-3B Orion. This maritime aircraft was absent for ten years and returned to duty recently. This particular Orion has been overhauled by Hellenic Aerospace Industries and was re-delivered to the Hellenic Navy last May. It stands alone as an intermediate solution before a total of 4 aircraft will complete the Mid-Life upgrade. The Orion crew provided a very distinctive display with lots of high speed passes and large bank angles. The Aegean Hawk deployed navy seals by fast rope onto the simulated battlefield. At the end of the display, all three naval aircraft lined up on the runway and gave their salute to their crowd, at the same time the pilots of the Orion were transmitting their goodbye over the radio.
There were two firsts for the Hellenic Armed Forces to present to the crowd in this year’s AFW. The first was the new basic trainer of the HAF, the Tecnam P-2002JF, which has replaced the T-41D. Deliveries were completed earlier this year. One example performed a fly-past on each day. The second public debut was the Hellenic Army's OH-58D Kiowa, presented in the static display. Greece received 70 of these former U.S. Army helicopters earlier this year.
The sole fighter jet in this year’s program was once again a F-16 from the Belgian Air Force. After the Hellenic Armed Forces, the Belgian Air Force is the greatest supporter of the AFW. The F-16 solo display act again thrilled the crowds with its precise and perfectly executed flying display, but this year the solo display was flown with one of the BAF F-16s with D-Day 75 years commemoration markings. Unfortunately, there were no other international front-line fighters participating, which made the show poorer in terms of afterburner noise. Although lacking an afterburner, the Austrian Saab 105Ö with its Tiger colour scheme was a great sight to behold.
The famous French aerobatic team Patrouille de France was this year’s headlining demo team. The team flying nine Alpha Jets came to Tanagra on Sunday morning after attending Ostrava's airshow. The team performed its display during the same afternoon.
A very welcomed highlight was the attendance of three different assets of the famous Flying Bulls. These aircraft attended Athens Flying Week for the first time and their presence was highly admired by the Greek audience. The Red Bulls aeroplanes were the classic airliner Douglas DC-6 and the famous warbird of WWII, Vought F-4U Corsair. These two aircraft flew together on Saturday offering a unique photo opportunity. The third Flying Bulls aircraft was the very agile Bo 105C helicopter, flown by the famous aerobatic pilot Rainer Wilke. The things that this pilot can make this helicopter do are absolutely amazing!
The Royal Jordanian Falcons performed their four-ship formation aerobatic display. Four different aerobatic aircraft, three of them seen in previous AFW airshows, performed unlimited solo aerobatics; the Italian “Silver Chicken” CAP 21DS flown by Luca Salvadori and the “Dutch Rush” Su-26MX from the Netherlands flown by Frank van Houten and Mika Brageot with his Extra 330 returned again this year. The "new kid on the block" was the German Martin Graef with his Extra 300. Each of these performers presented a unique demonstration that kept everyone’s attention! The sole civilian helicopter act was again the smoke pod equipped Wizard helicopter aerobatics’ EC-120B.
Once again, both of last year’s glider displays returned to Tanagra. The two famous champions in glider aerobatics, Johan Gustaffson and Luca Bertossio, performed their spectacular displays during the day but also during the night. There were also some R/C aircraft that were flown while each glider was being towed to altitude.
20 years Aegean Airlines
Most probably one of the biggest highlights of the show was the 20th anniversary of Aegean Airlines, the major air carrier of Greece. The company celebrated this memorable moment with a unique spectacle where past met present. On Sunday, the DC-6 of the Flying Bulls flew in formation with an A321 of Aegean Airlines and made several passes over the crowd. At the end, the aircraft of Aegean Airlines made a spectacular high-speed low pass over a huge birthday cake that was stationed in front of the crowd. Definitely an act to remember!
Happy birthday Aegean Airlines!
The Athens Flying Week 2020 Air Show is planned to take place again on September 19-20, 2020.
Report and photos by George Karavantos ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 29 October 2019