95th Baza - Bacău
After spending a day at Boboc learning about the initial flight training Romanian Air Force pilots go through, it was very apt that we spent day three of the tour at the 95th Baza Bacău where pilots continue onto advanced and operational training.
Bacău is situated within the Moldova Region of Romania in the North East of the country, rich with aviation history and training of Romanian Air Force pilots spanning back to 1920. Since 1968 however, the focus of the base solely turned to training, seeing a number of MiG-21 pilots’ go through their courses to begin operations during the cold war. The base as it’s now known was only established as the Baza 95 Aeriana during August 1995 following reorganisation of the Air Force.
We arrived at the main gate to be met by Warrant Officer Crina Cristofer, who from the off made us all feel welcome cracking jokes and enquiring if we were enjoying our time in Romania. Following the obligatory security checks, we were led to the Air Base Museum and introduced to Warrant Officer Cernat Eusebiu and Warrant Officer Sipos. WO Eusebiu proceeded to talk us through the extraordinary history of the base and an in-depth talk about the role the Romanian Air Force played during World War II. Officer Sipos helped translate for us where the language barrier was a slight issue, but overall both gentlemen did an excellent job of opening our eyes to a number of facts many were never aware of.
After wrapping up in the museum, we were taken to the taxiway and active apron to view a line of preserved MiG-21’s. At this point, WO Cristofer explained that up to 2004, the base was known as the Centrul 95 Trecere pe Avioane Supersonice (the 95th Centre for Transition to Supersonic Aircraft), which of course was re-designated the 95th Baza from that point. He went onto explain that MiG-21’s were active here up to 2013 which would see pilots progress from the IAR-99C to begin training on the MiG. But post 2013, the transition from IAR-99C to MiG-21 occurred once the training courses were complete at Bacău and pilots were re-posted to MiG-21 squadrons at Campia Turzii and Festesti. We were also talked through the Aerostar facility, although not allowed to go down and view it. The Aerostar facility carries out maintenance, modifications and repairs on most of the aircraft in the Romanian Air Force inventory, as well as repairing and upgrading MiG-21’s for Air Forces such as Mozambique, Egypt and Bangladesh.
Bacău is now home to two active squadrons:
An example of each aircraft was positioned on the taxiway for us to take photos, at which we were joined by a couple of pilots: Captain Mitria, who flies the IAR-99C Soim and Captain Bosanceanu, who flies the IAR-330. Both spoke at lengths giving an insight into both aircraft and what they were like to fly, they also showed us inside of each explaining what instruments control different aspects during flight and so on. During the very intriguing briefing, we were interrupted by an IAR-99 taking off to perform weather checks before the daily flying operations begun. The pilot was briefed on our presence and proceeded to show off giving some very spirited top side passes before recovering. Pilot Bosanceanu made us aware that due to night flying operations, we wouldn’t see any action from the IAR-330’s, as launches were not due to commence until 4pm – long beyond our departure time. Another IAR-99C took to the skies on a sortie, but we were informed it was a two hour mission and no further flying was scheduled before its return. It was decided that we could walk around another batch of stored MiG-21’s before eventually calling time on our tour.
Aviation in Action would again like to extend our thanks to the Romanian Air Force for allowing us the opportunity of this visit, the access and hospitality was once again truly outstanding. We would also like to thank the following for making this article possible:
Credits: Article and photography by Darren Willmin