2010 saw the 4th edition of Slovakia’s „National Air Day“ (NLD = Národných leteckých dní), once again held at the airport of Piestany. Compared to the previous year’s, the 2010 event did not change that much, and this was good so! Because where else can you see a mojar number of Slovak Air Force jets and helicopters see performing?
Where? Piestany, Slovak Republic
As the Slovak AF even nowadays has not got any Western-built aircraft in ist inventory, the airshow promised to be one of the best showcases of the „good old days“ and demonstration of „Soviet Air Power“ in Europe (with Slovakia being part of the European Union).
Of course the display sets of the Slovak AF were not extensive, and the tradional opening fly-by of the show lacked some aircraft compared to previous years. But nevertheless, there was a Mi-17, 3x Mi-24, 3x L-39, 3x MiG-29 and an An-32 in the air!
More aerial demonstrations of the Slovak Air Force was a MiG-29 and L-39 solo display, L-39 airfield attack, a two-ship MiG-29 „tail chase“, as well as role demonstrations by Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters.
The Ministray of Interior also flew on of their two Tu-154 for some low – and I really mean low!! - fly-bys as well as a touch& go in from Bratislava. The sight of these passes alone nearly makes the trip to Piestany worthwhile!
On Sunday for Mi-8/Mi-17 additonally hovered above the runway during its first pass.
Neighbouring countries also participated in the air: the Czech Air Force as well as the Hungarians flew the JAS39C Gripen, and the Czech Republic also provided a L-139A ALCA display as well as W-3A Sokol firefighting demo.
Austria showed a Eurofighter fly-by directly from Zeltweg (on Saturday only) as well as PC-6 Turbo Porter firefighting demo.
The Dutch seemly did like the flavour of the event in 2009 as they did return again this year with their bright orange (or shall I write oranje?) and flare-releasing F-16 „J-015“. Also to mention is the strong participation of Italy with solo displays of the Eurofighter Typhoon as well as – ever impressive – C-27J Spartan. The intention to sale new equipment to the SlAF might well be behind all this, however no official statement has been available.
Some more acts in the flying display included the usual „crowd pleasing“ aerobatics as well as a setpiece of a German WW II attack on an armoured train, with Zlin aerobatic aircraft in Messerschmitt Me109 colours!
Furthermore the airline Danubewings did some flyb-bys with one of their ATR72s.
The highlight of the static display was an Ukrainian MedEvac An-26, one of the rare appearnaces of this aircraft outside ist homecountry. Unfortuantely it did not bring with it the Mi-24 that was announced for the flying, but maybe a first step for a stronger Ukrainian participation has been made. One can only hope!
The remaining static display was neatly arranged on the taxiway and has been filled up with ancient aircraft of the SlAF from the nearby museum.
The only downpoint to mention was that nearly all of the hightlights of the flight display – the fast jet displays – were all packed around midday. The disadvantages of this were not only that the sun was in a really bad position for decent photos, but there were also no further jets to present during the afternoon programm.
Furthermore nearly all of the SlAF jets do not fly from Piestany, but from the nearby Malacky, which not only reduces the chances to see these aircraft in action, but also led to the cancellation of its flying display due to bad weather at their homebase.
As this procedure might be for operational reasons of the SlAF, it is also a sign that the airport layout itself obviously puts size restrictions on the airshow, which are difficult to manage for the airshow organization. It is only the future that will show if NLD at Piestany can grow or not – of course it can only be hoped so!