Letter from the Editor – November 2020

Dear Friends, Fans and Followers!

The early November usually would be the time to talk about the recently concluded air show season, share our experiences from the visited events and making plans for the future. Regrettably, this year all is different…

When our last editorial was issued, at the end of August, we really hoped that the future ones would not refer to the coronavirus outbreak anymore. At the end of August the situation did not look bad, most of the restrictions were already lifted and there was a chance we have learned how to manage that new, unexpected situations. In addition, there were even a few air show events organized at the end of summer – Letecký den Cheb (Aviation day in Cheb) in the Czech Republic and two shows in Poland being the best example. Although personally I had considered them to be organized a bit too early, regarding the situation in Europe, it seemed to be a proof that all is slowly going back to normal.

Although the air shows are just a small part of the aviation world, they are working as a perfect acid test in the pandemic time. No such open air event, with tens (or even hundreds) of thousands people, usually occupying a small, limited area will be allowed if there would be any risk of spreading the infection among the visitors. Obviously, the local events were the first one to be organized, as the usually lower amount of visitors was additionally reduced by limited number of tickets, therefore allowing to keep within the current safety precautions.

JAS-39C Gripen, Czech Air Force

However September, being usually a month with spectacular aviation events, brought us two surprises. The first of them was organizing the NATO Days in Ostrava/Mošnov (Czech Republic) – the show attracting usually approximately 150,000 people in two days – without any visitors, just with the online broadcasting. Announced in the second part of August, this decision of the organizer has attracted criticism from many aviation fans, especially, that it was followed by the usual closing of the neighbourhood area and lack of clear communication from the event team. Regrettably, despite the official declarations, the spotters and other aviation fans are for many years treated by the organizer as necessary evil, which results in more and more restrictions and arrogant way of communication – and this year was no exception. Finally, although being widely criticized, the organizer decided the show to go on, mostly due to VIP guests and sponsors (that were allowed to the area).

The second surprise was cancellation of the Battle of Britain Air Show Weekend organized by the IWM, and, in addition, the cancellation announced just a few days before the show. This decision was clearly understandable, as this seemed impossible to follow all restrictions and safety guidance at that kind of event. Personally I must admit that, regarding this event, I was a bit sceptic from the beginning, and the decision made by IWM was the right one. Just a pity it was announced at the last minute.

On the other hand, the events that were already cancelled at the beginning of pandemic, and went online instead, proceeded without any issues. The annual Sanicole International Airshow could be one of the best examples – the live event was cancelled already in April, then it was announced that it would be replaced by the online show, made of pre-recorded displays, interviews and virtual visits to air bases and airfields. In the end, it was a nice summary of the air show history, together with the possibility to support, by a donation, those who fight with Covid-19.

Su-27P ´Flanker´, Ukrainian Air Force

Now, at the beginning of November, the whole Europe is again suffering from the so-called ´second wave´… The coronavirus numbers are much higher than in the spring, we faced another lockdowns, economy collapse and uncertain future.

Regrettably, aviation is one of the most affected sectors – and I don´t mean only the air show business here. Apart from the problems that airlines are having now, we should also think about museums, warbird operators and other people and organizations that invested all their money and efforts in aviation business.

And the future is still not clear. Although several aviation events already announced their dates for 2021 (MAKS, Tag der Bundeswehr, Aviatická Pout´), given the current circumstances there is no certainty that such mass events as air shows would be allowed next year. There is a growing number of opinions saying the ´good, old times´ would not return so fast and we should be ready for living in ´limited mode´ for a year more, maybe two. And there is no surprise that first events planned for the next season were already cancelled – probably the first one was the Danish Air Show, that announced its cancellation two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, we believe this pandemic would be over one day. And we hope it would be soon. Until then, do not forget about those who are suffering from the lack of income, as their business was closed because of the safety precautions, about those who fight with the disease and support them, if you could.

And, primarily, keep the distance, wear your mask and wash your hands. If this is all we can do to lower the numbers, let´s do it! Stay safe!

Jacek Domański

North American B-25J ´Mitchell´