Letter from the Editor – April 2021

Dear Friends, Fans and Followers!

I´m sure you have noticed that it has been more than for months since our last editorial letter. And that´s because there are no significant changes in situation outside. Previously, we had an idea to use our editorials to share with you our activities, make some comments on air show seasons and to point out some of its highlights, as well as to promote our latest articles and reports.

Regrettably, all has changed at the beginning of 2020. Most of us have spent the whole year at home, without any travelling or similar pleasure activities. Not to mention the fact that almost all aviation events planned for 2020 season were cancelled. And, making a long story short, this was the main reason we have decided to issue our editorials only every few months.

Normally, at this time of the year we would be focusing on upcoming air show season. Let´s make no difference and – despite the latest news – take a look on the nearest aviation events.

I would like to say it openly that today – just a couple of days before May 2021 – an outlook for the 2021 air show season did not look much better than it was last year. Practically all events for May were already cancelled, the same happened regarding those scheduled for June and now another wave of cancellations of July and August events started. If you want to know more about the already cancelled or postponed events, please check our 2021 air show season information issued a few weeks ago. Certainly, we also plan to update it on regular basis as soon as decision about other events would be made.

Approximately one and a half week ago it was officially announced that the NATO Tiger Meet in Beja, Portugal (being postponed from 2020) would take place this year, between 2nd and 14th May. There are two spotter days planned, on 6th and 12th May, which makes the NTM the first aviation event to be organized in 2021.

EF-2000, TaktLwG 74, Luftwaffe – NTM 2014

Nevertheless, the participation is strictly limited to 300 spotters each day and special coronavirus-related rules would be implemented. In addition, according to the current regulations, there is practically no possibility to arrange a trip to Portugal from several European countries. As for today, going there from most countries is possible only in ´necessary cases´ (that don´t include an NTM, regrettably) and in addition a 14-day-long quarantine in the country is a must for travellers from France, the Netherlands, Poland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Slovenia or Hungary. This simply makes a trip to NTM 2021 from those locations impossible.

However, there are some countries that claim the pandemic is already over there (or at least under full control) and therefore allowed the mass gatherings like open air concerts, sport events and also air shows. Russia is one of them and would open the 2021 aviation season very soon. The traditional Victory Parade flypast over Moscow (and other cities across the country) on 9th May would be a season opener.

And a week later, an air show is announced at Kubinka air base, organized on the opportunity of the 30th anniversary of ´Swifts´ and ´Russian Knights´ aerobatic groups. Those who manage to visit Kubinka on 15th May 2021 would be able to see an interesting flying programme, together with additional displays on the ground. Certainly, both teams mentioned above will perform their shows there, supported by ´Berkuts´ helicopter group, ´Reactors´ team (flying L-29 training jets), ´First flight´ aerobatic group and solo display of Svetlana Kapanina. The event starts at 9:00 local time and admission is free of charge.

In addition, on 20th – 22nd May, the International Helicopter Industry Exhibition ´HeliRussia´ will take place in Moscow. Nevertheless, both events would be available only for limited number of professionals and domestic visitors. As for today, the strict ban on almost any travels to Russia, caused by coronavirus pandemic, is still in effect.

Sukhoi Su-57E – MAKS-2019

This also brings a question about the oncoming International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2021, being scheduled for 20th – 25th July. There are just about 80 days left to the event and, according to the organizers, it would be held as planned. Nevertheless, the above mentioned ban on travels and overall situation related to the coronavirus outbreak is at this moment effectively blocking any possibility of planning a trip to MAKS-2021. Therefore number of visitors this year can be significantly lower, comparing to previous editions.

And returning to the Western Europe, the first significant aviation event available for general public – and still not being cancelled yet – is the France Air Expo, scheduled for 17th – 19th June at Lyon Bron Airport. This event is the only general aviation exhibition in France and, according to the official information, would be organized in a strict ´coronavirus mode´.

That´s practically all regarding the season highlights for the next two months. What happens next? I think that no one knows today. It must be acknowledged that some of the events planned for the second half of June and beyond are still listed as active. Their organizers do hope that the pandemic would be over soon and related restrictions cancelled, allowing their events to take place.

Nevertheless, all depends on the overall situation, possibility of travelling and a clear way back to normality. Nothing is certain, so at this moment we would rather like to not make any forecast beyond the half of June.

But no matter what limitation the future brings, there are still many aviation stories to be told. The lack of air shows will not cause any blank space on our web site – we consider this as a great opportunity to focus more on military aviation, live-fly exercises and also milestones in aviation history, not to mention our other sections as space or civil aviation. And also a stimulus to look into our archives a little deeper, recalling some interesting events and facts from a few years ago.

Let´s hope the next months would lead to better days. Stay safe!

Jacek Domański,

Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon, 6 ELT, Polish Air Force – NTM 2014