Danish Airshow 2016

Skrydstrup Air Base, Denmark

On 19th June 2016, the home of the Royal Danish Air Force’s Fighter Wing at Skrydstrup took the baton to stage the widely anticipated Danish Airshow. The event which occurs every two years, rotates between the three Danish Air Force facilities; Aalborg, Karup and of course Skrydstrup. The base itself is situated in the Southern Region of the Country, playing host to Eskadrille 727 and Eskadrille 730, the two Danish Air Force F-16 squadrons.

The purpose of these events in Denmark is to show the local community what the Danish Air Force does on a day to day basis and demonstrate what the noise coming from inside the wire is all about. Therefore entry to the event was free as is the case with many state funded air shows in Europe, resulting in bumper crowds upwards of 140,000 people. Considering the quality of aircraft on display both in the air and on the ground, this hardly came as a surprise.

It would be hard to begin talking about aircraft participation without mentioning the undoubted stars of the show – the Ukrainian Air Force, who provided aircraft both for the flying display and static park. This comes as a result of a relatively longstanding co-operation between the two nations working together on Operation Northern Falcon in Greenland, where the transport of fuel and other equipment is provided by Ukraine to the Danish ‘Nord’ Polar Station. To honour this alliance, the Ukrainian Air Force sent a pair of SU-27 Flankers, a single seater for the flying display and a twin seat for static the park paired with an IL-76MD. The crowd were evidently very appreciative of their appearance, showing high levels of interest in both aircraft on the ground and giving undivided attention to the display slot of the SU-27. It’s not often a whole crowd stops to fixate on a display, but that was the case in this instance where a majestic yet incredible display of power unfolded before them.

The home team were very well represented both in the air and on the ground. Examples of all current Danish Air Forces assets could be viewed throughout the show ground including one of their newly delivered MH-60R Sea Hawk’s, this in contrast to many former aircraft operated by the RDAF on show in the Heritage Park. The flying housed appearances from all of the Danish Air Force branches, firstly the Fighter Wing provided their F-16 solo display; a routine again full of raw power and plenty of flare releases, followed then by a delightful heritage display with a Supermarine Spitfire. In addition to this there was a very brief airfield attack composed of four F-16’s flying an attack profile from four different directions, leading to a couple of formation passes before recovering. The Helicopter Wing based at Karup provided a special forces demonstration, whereby an AS.550C2 Fennec and EH101 Merlin worked together to slow and halt a suspect vehicle, proceeded by the Merlin dropping off troops and vehicles to capture ‘trespassers’ on the active runway with the Fennec providing top cover. Also from the Helicopter Wing was the display debut of the MH-60R Sea Hawk, which undertook a gentle routine showing off a glimpse of its capabilities to the crowd.  The Transport Wing from Aalborg contributed with a formation flypast of three CL.604 Challengers’ and a great solo routine from a C-130J Hercules. Lastly the training branch of the Danish Air Force was represented through the national display team – Baby Blue flying their T.17 Supporters’.

In the run up to the show, both Boeing and Eurofighter had confirmed displays from an F/A-18F Super Hornet and Typhoon respectively, the Hornet provided by the US Navy and the Typhoon from the German Air Force. These unfortunately pulled out in the couple of weeks before the show as a result of the decision taken by Danish Officials to opt for the Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighter as their future fighter platform replacing the ageing F-16 fleet. This however didn’t detract from a great line-up of foreign display acts. The German Air Force still sent a Typhoon for the static park, where it was joined by a pair of F-16’s from the Norwegian Air Force, both sporting special tiger schemes. Also in the static, the US Army sent a UH-60 Blackhawk, NATO provided one of their E-3A Sentry’s and a very pleasant surprise was the unannounced attendance of a Lithuanian Air Force Eurocopter AS.365 Panther.

The flying display saw great support from European based jets with the Belgian and Greek F-16 demo teams, a Polish MiG-29A Fulcrum, the Swedish Historic Flight’s SK-35C Draken and national display teams from both Turkey (The Turkish Stars) and Spain (Patrulla Aguilla). Other displays of note were the welcome flypasts from a USAF B-52H Stratofortress and warbird displays from a YAK-3U, CA-13 Boomerang, Fokker Driedecker and Supermarine Spitfire. Further foreign participants, this time in helicopter form came from the Czech Air Force with the Mi-35 Hind display and the Swiss Air Force with their AS.332 Super Puma. Civilian representation came in the form of Wing Walker Danielle, who really took the term wing walking literally in a breath taking routine on top of a Boeing Stearman.

Overall the show had a fantastic free flowing and relaxed feel, and although a relatively small sized event in European standards, the variety and quality on display certainly made up for that. The organisation and hospitality shown by the Danish hosts both on the Spottersday and airshow day was second to none making this event a must for those contemplating 2018. The event in two years will be held at the Transport Wing – Aalborg Air Base, which if not just to see larger numbers of Danish Air Force assets, this year proved how great an event the Danish can host.

 

 

Credits: Article and photography by Aaron Paxton