For the 9th time already, the Austrian Armed Forces, Red Bull and the Province of Styria are hosting an airshow, which was christened Airpower in 2000. This year’s motto is: We fly on Austria! But why go to an airshow with the logo of a beverage maker in it?
The answer is simple: because of the Flying Bulls. They were founded in 1999 and collect everything from old warbirds to modern jet planes to make the heart of aviation enthusiasts beat faster. They are thus a real flying museum and have 21 different types in their inventory, including the only flying specimens of some types in Europe. They are based in Hangar 7 and 8 at Salzburg Airport, where you can see the perfectly maintained aircraft and helicopters up close. For the first time they showed the Aerobatic Triple with a Bo 105, an Edge and three Skydivers in Zeltweg.
Of course, the Austrian Armed Forces were also present at this year’s largest military project, with all the aircraft above the Hinterstoisser air base at Zeltweg, with the exception of the three flying C-130Ks. The Hercules were groundet due to cracks found at the propeller during inspection. One of the Austrian aircraft should be ready to fly again soon.
Zeltweg is home to the „Überwachungsgeschwader“ (surveillance squadron) with 15 Eurofighter Typhoon, which is responsible for airspace surveillance in Austria. With the purchase of these up to Mach 2 fast fighter aircraft in 2007, the country wants to maintain its air sovereignity, protect important events and locations from the air and ward off dangers from the air. This was also demonstrated with a Red Bull Falcon 900EX and two scrambled Eurofighter Typhoon. The task will also be temporarily taken over by the Saab 105 OE of the Linz „Düsentrainerstaffel“ (jet trainer squadron), for example during Airpower. However, there are already discussions about the decommissioning of both fleets and the procurement of new jets, so this might be the last demonstration of a Saab 105 fourship formation in the Austrian Air Force at such a big show. The decommissioning is planned for the year 2020, but there may be an extension to the year 2025 due to lack of follow-up models.
Thanks to the Saab J 35J Draken of the “Swedish Air Force Historic Flight”, the predecessor of the Eurofighter Typhoon in the Austrian Armed Forces could again be admired in the sky above Zeltweg. Some of the aircraft can also be seen in the military aviation museum at the air base, including the special black paintjob for the farewell ceremony of the type in 2005.
The Austrian Armed Forces was present with a total of 47 aircraft. The fin of a Eurofighter Typhoon (7L-WB) with a stylized camouflage pattern and silhouettes of the fighter aircraft was specially laminated for the Airpower. This was a coveted photo motif for the specially arrived spotters, who were able to purchase special tickets in advance. The rush for the limited tickets for 18 different photo positions around the airfield was so big that the servers collapsed several times and some tickets were sold out after a short time.
Unfortunately the weather did not play along this year. On both airshow days there were cloudy skies, on Saturday even heavy rain and gusts of wind. A victim of the bad conditions was also the Swedish biplane of the type FVM Ö 1 Tummelisa, which lay down on the roof while rolling out. The pilot left the plane unharmed. A total of 185,000 visitors came to this free event at Styria.
Participants of Airpower 2019 were more than 200 aircraft from over 20 countries, including for the first time in Zeltweg an A400M of the German Armed Forces and an F-35A of the Italian Air Force for the static display. The flying display featured five aerobatic teams and some solo displays. Among them were two F-16 solo demonstrations (Greece and Belgium), Su-22 (Poland), F/A-18 (Switzerland), JAS 39 (Hungary) and of course the hosts with Saab 105 and Eurofighter Typhoon. It was probably also one of the last performances of the Breitling Jet Team, as the Swiss watch manufacturer is terminating its sponsorship at the end of the year.
Another motto of this Airpower was the development of the air combat of the last 100 years. So there was a historical dogfight between Fokker Dr.I and a Tummelisa like in World War I, and a dogfight between F-86 and MiG-15 like at the time of the Korean War. Thus it could be well see the changes from the beginnings up to fighter planes of the fourth generation, since the only airplane of the fifth generation could be admired only under special safety restrictions on the ground.
For the first time a technology and business exhibition took place in Spielberg on Wednesday and Thursday before Airpower. This is an attempt to change the event from a pure leisure event to a kind of trade fair. Whether there will be another Airpower in three years remains uncertain.
Beside the fixed-wing aircraft there were also some rotary-wing aircraft in the air and on the ground to marvel at. So there was a big parade of AB 212, OH-58, S-70, NH90 and Mi-17 and solo displays of Mi-24 and A109. Besides the Flying Bulls brought helicopters of the type R44, Bell 47, Sycamore and Bo-105 into the air. This year, however, the Bell Cobra TAH-1F had to be renounced, since it is not yet ready to fly again after an accident at the airfield Reutte-Höfen on May 25th, 2017.
All in all, Airpower 2019 was a successful event, even though there were no real highlights this year compared to the editions in the past years. Particular praise should be given to the organisation, which has really worked excellently this year. So we hope to see you again at Airpower 2022.