2024 air show season opener – Den ve vzduchu in Plasy

Just like in previous years, we started new aviation season at Aeroklub Plasy airfield, in the West Bohemia region. For more than twenty years, that small but picturesque town hosts Den ve vzduchu (English: Day in the air), the biggest air show event of the region.

Den ve vzduchu is traditionally organized during the last weekend of April, which gives it an important role of the season opener, not only in the Czech Republic but also in Europe.

Although the flying programme was launched in the afternoon, visitors were welcomed at the airfield from the morning hours. The gates were opened at 9:00 am and shortly after an extensive programme of side events began.

It included several attractions for the youngest guests and static exhibition of the Czech Armed Forces, as well as the air show sponsors. There was also a possibility to see Plasy and its countryside from the air, as sightseeing flights were offered through the whole day (except the flying display hours).

At 10:30 am, there was a firefighting show. As every year, the Fire and Rescue Service of the Plzeň Region showcased its vehicles and other equipment, as well as performed several live displays of various rescue procedures. And, as always, the fire brigade performance attracted most of the young visitors who carefully examined all the exhibited vehicles and then, with respect and a great deal of curiosity watched the firefighters at work.

Then, the dynamic side performances included a quad stunt riding show by Richard Mošna, a slack show – tightwire and highwire trick walking, and finally a live concert of jazz and swing music.

During the morning hours, the visitors to Plasy airfield had also possibility to take a closer look at aircraft showcased on the static display. The exhibition included almost all aeroplanes participating in the show, as well as some additional guests.

JAS-39C Gripen, Czech Air Force

Moreover, a few interesting aircraft could be found among the visitors´ fleet. As in the recent years, also this time Den ve vzduchu attracted several pilots who arrived to Plasy with their own aeroplanes. They were parked in a long line along the public area and included such attractive examples as Quest Kodiak 100, Spacek SD-1 Minisport, Bolkow Bo 207, Aeropro Eurofox 912, Zlín Savage Cub and de Havilland Canada U-6A Beaver.

The flying programme began at 1:30 pm and, traditionally, was opened by a flypast of two JAS-39C Gripen fighter aircraft of the Czech Air Force. It was followed by another aircraft formation, although of a totally different kind.

That first display was performed by three biplanes belonging to Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann family, a popular German training aircraft from the 1930s and 1940s. Two of them represented the post-war, Spanish-made CASA 1.131E variant (built 1958 and 1961, respectively), and the third was a modern replica of the Czech-built version, Tatra T-131.

The three elegant biplanes performed a great show of formation flying, followed by additional solo display of Jan Rudzinskyj and his red-painted CASA 1.131E.

Then, emotions have risen even higher due to the next display, the aerobatic show of MBB Bo 105 CBS-2 helicopter, flew by Siegfried Schwarz. The rotorcraft, already well-known to aviation enthusiasts in Europe, belongs to the Flying Bulls collection from Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria. It is one of the only few civil helicopters in the world authorised for performing full aerobatic programme with looping.

And such was exactly that helicopter display in Plasy. Breathtakingly dynamic, full of incredible stunts and several loops with flying the rotorcraft upside down. The Bo 105 performance was followed by yet another aerobatics display. This time it was a domestic show, flew by Karel Vobořil in Zlín Z-142.

Karel Vobořil, Zlín Z-142

Next, the sky over Plasy airfield was taken over by an iconic training aircraft of the 1950s. The Fouga CM.170 Magister arrived from Plzeň-Líně airfield, where the aeroplane is currently being based. Piloted by Laurent Golay, the Magister performed a perfectly delightful display with characteristic whistle of its Turbomeca turbojet engine. Also the stylish silhouette of the French trainer attracted much attention from the public.

It should be also noted here that it was a premiere flying display of that type of aircraft in the Czech Republic. More information about the aeroplane and Classic Trainers collection from Plzeň-Líně can be found in our article ´Little Rebel´, Penguin and Magister – open day at Classic Trainers collection, issued in May of 2024.

The sound of the Turbomeca engine did not yet die away when another aerobatic special took-off for a flying display. This time it was Yakovlev Yak-55, a Soviet-developed single seat aircraft that once allowed the Soviet pilots to dominate the World Aerobatic Championship series. In Plasy, the Yak-55 was flown by Petr Františ who performed yet another breath-taking and marvellous aerobatic show.

The Yak-55 performance was followed by two displays of historical aircraft, both representing the World War II years. The first of them was Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor ´Southern Comfort´, made in 1942 and then served with the USAAF.

According to its previous owners, the aeroplane was for a certain time used by Dwight D. Eisenhower, the famous Allied commander and then the 34th President of the United States. In addition, among the ´Southern Comfort´ pilots there was Paul Warfield Tibbets Jr, the commander of B-29 ´Enola Gay´ during the Hiroshima mission on 6th August 1945.

Beechcraft C-45 Expeditor

Although such information are based only on the former owners´ tale and were never proved right or wrong, the C-45 is still a highlight of any aviation show it appears. There was no exception in Plasy, as the neat silhouette of the all-silver Expeditor and the sound of its two radial engines were just a pure pleasure for all aviation fans.

Another World War II aircraft that performed a flying display over Plasy, was P-51D Mustang, the iconic Allied fighter. It was the already well-known ´Little Rebel´, one of the latest additions to the Classic Trainer collection. Detailed history of the aeroplane can be found in our article North American P-51D-30-NT Mustang, issued in May of 2023, right after its arrival to the Czech Republic.

The warbirds were followed by the Czech Air Force search and rescue display, performed by PZL W-3A Sokół helicopter. That spectacular and incredibly dynamic show is one of the spectators´ favourites and always is awarded with enthusiastic applause. Over the years, the W-3A SAR display became a trademark of the Czech Air Force, showcased at several domestic and international aviation events.

The next point of Den ve vzduchu flying programme brought another Czech air show premiere. It was a unique merge of artistic skills, when aerobatic display of Schleicher ASK 21 glider was accompanied with live saxophone music.

The live music was performed by world-class Czech saxophonists Kateřina Janečková, known as KJ Sax, while the glider was flown by Roman Šlapáček. They both offered an unusual combination of aerobatics and live music performance which was highly appreciated by spectators in Plasy.

Roman Šlapáček, Schleicher ASK 21

Next, the sky over the Plasy airfield was taken over by the Aviation Fair Squadron (Letka Aviatické pouti) and its flying replicas of the Great War aeroplanes. On Saturday, the squadron performed with Nieuport 11 and Morane-Saulnier MS-139 Avionnette, with Aviatik Berg D.I added to the formation the next day. More information about the Aviation Fair Squadron and its aircraft can be found in our article Aviation Fair Squadron acquired its second aircraft, issued in October of 2023.

Martin Šonka, the famous aerobatic pilot and the Red Bull Air Race world champion, belongs to regular participants of Den ve vzduchu show. The favourite of the Czech public performed just another breath-taking, marvellous display with his Extra 300SR.

Although this year´s edition of the event was full of different aerobatic displays, the show performed by Šonka was really one of its kind, additionally enhanced with his live, a bit witty commentary broadcasted directly from the cockpit.

The last solo performer at Plasy was Pilatus P-2-05, another aircraft from the Classic Trainers collection. The Swiss training aircraft from the mid-1940s was built in only fifty-five examples, about twenty of which survived until today. The aeroplane is rarely performing flying displays at air shows in the Central and Eastern Europe. Therefore, it was a great enjoyment for any aviation enthusiast to see it flying during the 2024 edition of Den ve vzduchu.

The flying programme of the Plasy air show was concluded by formation of four Zlín aeroplanes, which performed a traditional aviation stunt of cutting small balloons with the aircraft propeller. The formation included two Z-43 and two Z-142 aircraft and, despite the heavy wind, the pilots managed to destroy many of their ´targets´.

Pilatus P-2-05

According to the organizers, this year´s edition of Den ve vzduchu attracted almost 20,000 visitors. A pretty good score as per regional air show and the first aviation event of the season.

The show brought the interesting set of flying displays. Many of them were focused on aerobatics, allowing the spectators to watch the aircraft – and their pilots – performing at its limits. Den ve vzduchu 2024 offered a broad variety of aircraft – from the Great War replicas, through the World War II aeroplanes and post-war military trainers, to modern helicopters and high-performance aerobatic specials.

Particularly noteworthy was the Czech premiere of the Fouga CM.170 Magister and the Pilatus P-2 display, as well as MBB Bo 105 and Martin Šonka´s shows.

Therefore, we should recognize Den ve vzduchu organization team for yet another great show at the Plasy airfield. And we are already looking forward to the next edition of the event in 2025.

More images from Den ve vzduchu 2024: