90th Baza - Bucharest Otopeni

On Sunday 6th September, Aviation in Action joined Herts Aviation Society’s tour of Romania which would span four days visiting five different air bases of the Romanian Air Force.

After spending the night in Bucharest, a perfect sunrise and blue skies presented itself as we arrived to the military gate at Henri Coandǎ International Airport on Monday 7th September. This marked the beginning of our first base tour at the 90th Airlift Base, Otopeni – the transport wing of the Romanian Air Force. Greeted by Major Albu, we were escorted to the active ramps whilst he explained the history of the base and the squadrons who reside there.

The 90th Airlift Wing is home to the following squadron’s (Escadrila’s):

  • Esc. 901 Strategic Transport – Operating C-130B/H Hercules
  • Esc. 902 Transport and Reconnaissance – Operating C-27J Spartans and AN-30’s
  • Esc. 903 Helicopter Transport – Operating IAR-330L/M’s

After a very insightful explanation demonstrating the significance of the Wing, the roles it’s responsible for and the aircraft operated, Major Albu proceeded to show us around the majority of aircraft presently on the ramps allowing photography as we went along. A pleasant surprise was being escorted over to the secret service and national police helicopters which included Mil Mi-8’s, Mil Mi-17’s and IAR-316’s. These airframes are not usually included in the base visit due to being operated by a separate unit, but luckily we were given special permission to go across and view.

This visit was only to be a short one owing to having another base to attend later that afternoon, but before we were due to leave Major Albu had one more surprise for us. Normally on Monday mornings the ground crew will run the engines on all aircraft to make sure they are serviceable for the coming week, meaning Monday’s see very little flying unless tasking dictates. Major Albu had organised one of the IAR-330’s to have slightly more than an engine run, in fact he made sure we were treated to a short flight test within the very immediate airspace, giving a fantastic demonstration of the IAR-330’s capabilities. Once the crew had safely landed we were able to go across and thank the pilots for going that extra distance for our benefit.

Aviation in Action would like to extend our thanks to the Romanian Air Force for allowing us the opportunity of this visit, but specifically:

  • Lt. Laura Istrate – Romanian Air Force Public Affairs
  • Major Albu – for hosting us and showing us around
  • Finally the crew and pilots of the 90th Baza for being so accommodating and friendly



Credits: Article and photography by Darren Willmin, additional imagery by Aaron Paxton