Airpower 2009

Zeltweg, Austria

26-27 June 2009

After a four year absence during which both the SAAB Draken and its temporary replacement F-5E Tiger II were both retired from service, the Red Bull sponsored Airpower airshow returned to Zeltweg. Situated in a valley in Austria´s green heart Styria, Zeltweg is well known among aviation photographers for its wonderful backdrop of forest covered mountains. Add to this the first showing of Austria's new Eurofighter EF.2000's and there was ample reason to visit this show once more.

The Austrian Air Force has a heavy bias towards helicopters, with only a limited number of combat capable jets. Newest among the rotary winged types is the Sikorsky S.70A-42, nine of which serve with Fliegerregiment 's 1. Hubschrauberstaffel at Tulln-Langenlebarn in North Eastern Austria. As can be seen , the Austrian Air Force is tasked with the international community's KFOR stabilization force in Kosovo. Airpower included both a flag parade and an impressive tactical helicopter demonstration by multiple types.

Among the types displayed was the Agusta AB. 206A. This type gave its farewell appearance during Airpower 09, as the thirteen helicopters of this type which have been used for training purposes by the 2. Hubschrauberstaffel at Tulln have been put up for sale. Also in service at Tulln, but with the 3. Hubschrauberstaffel are the similar but not identical Bell OH-58B Kiowas. Finally to the right the mainstay of Austria's tactical helicopter fleet, the Agusta AB.212 of which 24 serve with Fliegerregiment 3 at Linz.


As indicated above, Airpower 09 provided the opportunity to view Austria's Eurofighter EF.2000 in action. Although naturally there was no Austrian Eurofighter display pilot fully trained yet, but the type demonstrated the interception of a hostile intruder after having been detected by the Goldhaube radar system. The part of the intruder was played by a C-130K Hercules. Displaying the Eurofighters performance in flight was left to the Italian EF.2000 shown to the right drawn from Pratica di Mare's Reparto Sperimentale Volo test unit. The German Luftwaffe brought a pair of EF.2000's over from Neuburg were JG 74 has recently converted from F-4F Phantoms.

More fast jet action was in the shape of F-16 solo demonstrations by the Belgian Air Component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force. Neighbouring Hungary was represented by one of the Kecskemet based JAS-39C Gripens. A Slowakian L.39C Albatross showed what this little Czech training jet is capable of. 

Fans of multi engined hardware were treated to (finally!) an Austrian Hercules flying at Zeltweg, while the Italian RSV from Pratica di Mare (again) displayed the C-27J Spartan with typical Italian flair. To the right, a Czech Air Force Antonov An.26 can be seen tucking up its gear on take off after a brief visit on the Friday, 26 June. 

Apart from the Eurofighters, Zeltweg also is home to the Fliegerschule, the Flight School within the Austrian Air Force which trains all aspiring pilots. Of course, one of their PC.7's was displayed by one of the school's instructors. It can be seen here taxiing after its display. Note the proximity of the taxiway in both this shot as well of in that of the German Eurofighter. 

A formation display by three SAAB 105 advanced trainers together with one of Red Bull's Alpha Jets brought back memories of Karo As. This was Austria's formation aerobatic team until it was disbanded in 1984. 25 years later, their jets can still be enjoyed. 

The German Army showed their Sikorsky CH-53G at Zeltweg. This huge helicopter even flew in Austrian markings during the seventies, however proving too expensive for Austria's budget. Consequently, the two machines were sold to Israel. It was amazing to see the big helicopter turning within Zeltweg's valley.

And of course, there were the aerobatic teams. Zeltweg managed to attract a.o. the Turkish Stars. Flying Dutch supplied NF-5's they flew with their usual flair, and included an enthousiastic commentator; " Sie kommen von rechts!" One could tell that the Turkish Stars had trouble with Zeltweg's geography, the Pierced Heart manoeuvre was flown so close to the crowdline that the heart was barely recognisable. Clearly, the mountains in the background were in the way. Croatia's Wings of Storm showed what the Pilatus PC.9M, the PC.7's big brother can do. A bit disapointing was the Polish Air Force's Team Orlik and their PZL.130's. The display was really too far away from the crowd to be enjoyed to the full. 

Rumour has it that this was the final Airpower show in its present form. Time will tell, however it would be a loss for Europe's air show scene if this regular with its beautiful scenery and well organised spotters accomodation which even included breakfast, lunch and dinner was to be lost. 

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink