From the 22nd till the 23rd of September 2018 in Tanagra Greek Air Force base, the 7th International Airshow ΄΄ Athens Flying Week 2018΄΄ took place.
Our Team was honored by the invitation of the Organizing Committee to take part in the flight demonstrations! In order to safely transport the giant YAK 54 along with the necessary equipment and our personal gear for the long journey (590 Km) from Kavala, our home town, to Tanagra Air Force base, a suitable transport vehicle had to be procured and a sponsor was planned to be found to support us with the various expenses.
The sponsor in short time was found in the face of Municipality of Kavala, which kindly sponsored us as representatives of Kavala, by undertaking the cost of the rental of the van and a significant part of the fuel expenses.
From our behalf we tried to advertise our home town as much as possible, with a banner and flyers kindly provided by ΄΄Dimofelia΄΄ a Public Benefit Organization of the Municipality of Kavala. The 2000 copies of flyers proved to be insufficient for the hundreds of spectators that visited our pavilion during the Airshow!
A spacious Ford Transit Van was rented from the Avance Car Rental Company (Kavala branch) which proved to be the right choice! The YAK was secured to the floor of the van with belts and all of the rest equipment found its place in the cavernous loading compartment of the Transit!
The van was decorated on its four sides with stickers with the emblem of our Team which gave an eye catching result!
21st of September 2018
We had to be in Tanagra early in the morning (08:00 LT) of Friday the 21st of September as this day was devoted to flight rehearsals. So a night trip was a must! Sokratis and Dimitris drove over the night the van in turns, as Konstantinos was scheduled to arrive by plane on the evening of 21st. Unfortunately the second demo pilot of our Team, Achilles, couldn’t joint us due to professional obligations. In order to provide more sleeping time to Sokratis (as he was to execute at least one flight the next day) Dimitris took over the best part of the 6 hours’ drive to Tanagra with the necessary stops at certain rest areas along the highway!
We reached the main gate of Tanagra Air Base at 07:45 LT on Friday morning, went through the initial check and certification and we received our Free Pass tags.
We were escorted to our pavilion in order to unload the van and be prepared for the first Pilot΄s Briefing of the Show which would be held at 09:00 LT in one of the Base΄s buildings hosted by the Flight Director, Greek Air Force Pilot Colonel (retired) Manolis Karachalios, the first demo pilot of the ΄΄ZEUS΄΄ Demo Team with the F-16 Block 52+.
The heartily welcome from the organizers made us feel immediately at home and as soon as the initial briefing terminated and the rehearsal’s flight schedule was given, we headed to our pavilion to prepare the YAK and ourselves!
We were scheduled to fly on the 10th position at 12:34 LT, so we had fairly enough time to assemble the YAK, refuel it and make the final pre-flight checks.
Approx. 20 minutes before our scheduled flight time, we were at stand-by at the nominated holding area, ready to receive the OK signal by the Ground Operations Manager, Fokion Petritis, a new good friend to all of us, whose acquaintance has been already made in the previous weeks only by phone.
The rehearsal flight was perfect and at the end we received the first bravo from Fokion who was one of the members of the Organizing Committee who contributed in our participation in the Airshow. Feeling relieved we went back to our pavilion to complete the preparation for the next two days!
From this moment on, we had plenty of time until the end of the flights to regroup ourselves, take care of our static display in the pavilion and to enjoy the rest of the day watching extreme aerobatics by the other participants!
In the same evening a welcome party was organized in the VIP area where we spend some time enjoying the buffet, but at the same time feeling the previous night΄s luck of sleep to knock on our eyelids door!
There we had also the opportunity to meet friends from our home town Airshow by the name ΄΄KAVALA AIRSEA SHOW΄΄(please find relevant info in our EVENTS section) such as DIMITRIOS VERVERELIS, pilot of the AIRBUS HELICOPTER EC-120B of the WIZARD Aerobatic Team!
Saturday 22nd of September 2018.
Konstantinos had already joined us in the previous evening. The rehearsal day debriefing was given to him and at 08:35 LT we were entering into the Air Base. We gave Konstantinos an onsite orientation and at 10:00 LT the three of us joined the daily Pilot΄s briefing.
The daily updated flight schedule was distributed with no major changes in our flight program.
Forget about the relatively calm of the previous day! From 09:00 LT the spectators start swarming in by the thousands!
On Saturday the 22nd we were nominated 7th in the list of flight demos of the day, which was at 13:30 LT. At 13:00 with a certain amount of stress…we towed the YAK to the holding area where we waited for the GO from the Ground Ops Manager, our friend Fokion Petritis.
Five (5) minutes before takeoff, Fokion gave us the permission to position ourselves in the middle of the runway and start the engine.
The trustworthy and reliable engine (DLE 170) required no more than two flips of the 30×12 carbon prop to start roaring! A necessary engine test at full throttle, music ON by the disk jockey and TAKE OFF!
Konstantinos had the duty of the Safety Observer plus that of the instigator, keeping an eye on the list of maneuvers and the other in the sky!
Below are two YOU TUBE links:
The first one from ΄΄gvlacom΄΄ which we thank a lot, is a video filmed from the Spotters area of our flight on Friday the 21st (rehearsal day).
The second video is from our demo on Sunday the 23rd.
The flight was eye catching and crowd pleasing as it included aerobatic maneuvers in Low, Middle and High altitudes always abiding to the strict rules of the Flight Director concerning height of flight and flight line. Our friend Leonidas Karanatsis an ex Mirage 2000 Pilot, the commentator of Athens Flying Week since the very first, seven (7) years ago, contributed the most in our 8 minutes performance with his unparalleled description and comments!
Heads and cameras were looking at the sky as the YAK baffled many of them, especially the ones away from the takeoff area, who were misled by its size, the realistic aerobatics, the engine΄s roar and the intense smoke against the clear, deep blue sky, so much that afterwards we received comments such as ΄΄we thought it was a real size one΄΄!
After the mandatory wings swing as a salute to the spectators accompanied by the emotional theme song΄΄ Tennessee΄΄by Hans Zimmer, Sokratis performed a perfect landing and received a lively clapping by the spectators.
As we were towing the YAK back to our pavilion we were stopped on tracks and asked too many times from several aviation enthusiasts to take a picture of themselves with the YAK!
Our pavilion during the Airshow was the epicenter of many real size aircrafts pilots and aeromodellers, friends from Rc Model Clubs from Athens, Larisa and even from the Aeroclub of Limassol in Cyprus!
Many of them were unknown to us till that moment, but our common passion for the RC world proved to be unmistakable because we spoke the same ΄΄language΄΄!
Among them was our friend George Papagiannis pilot of Powerbox Systems and Jet Central Engines and active participant of the Athens Flying Week from the very first event. George performed during the Airshow on Saturday with his incredibly fast HOTSPOT jet and on Sunday with the beautiful MXS-R in a fully aerobatic flight.
Another good friend was the designer of our apparel Dimitris Stathopoulos the owner of ΄΄MILIPRINT΄΄Company who came to visit us pleased of the resonance of his design to the public! We thank you Dimitris for the topnotch piece of art that you have created for us!
Michalis Anastasiou, a member of the Organizing Committee, pilot of China Airlines and owner of Aviodream Company, honored us by visiting our pavilion. His contribution in our participation is priceless!
Major Chatzigiorgos pilot of Team ΄΄Daedalus΄΄gave us great pleasure by visiting us, as we already have a friendly relationship with him from KAVALA AIRSEA SHOW!
We didn’t remain static and we paid a visit to the pavilion of the Hellenic Air Athletic Federation (ΕΛ.Α.Ο) to meet Argyris Giannetakis, a first class RC pilot and model builder!
Our pavilion was placed in an area close to the certificated SPOTTERS or AVIATION JUNKIES!
A very friendly one by the name Richard Pittman, came to us and immediately we became friends as Richard was excited with our YAK and took some first class photos with his monstrous telescopic set of lens!
He runs a most interesting webpage dedicated to (what else) Aviation Photography!
Below you may enjoy some of his superb photos from Athens Flying Week!
Thank you Richard, we hope to see you again next year!
The first day of the show came to an end at about 20:00 LT. Thousands of spectators began the journey back home and the Airshow personnel started to prepare themselves for the second and final day, Sunday the 23rd!
Sunday the 23rd of September 2018
Today our demo flight was a little earlier than the one of Saturday but the number of spectators was more than double in comparison with the previous day! At the end of another successful and crowd pleasing flight, the YAK was parked beside its real size ΄΄cousin΄΄the Sukhoi 26 MX owned and piloted by Frank van Houten, of Dutch Rush Aerobatics, a World class aerobatics Pilot and a very friendly guy!
We spend considerable time in the area with pure aviator΄s talk with Frank and admiring the superb Sukhoi 26 MX!
On Sunday we had also the pleasure to welcome the ΄΄hard core΄΄of the Organizing Committee of the KAVALA AIRSEA SHOW led by Colonel Pilot (rt) Georgiadis Panagiotis.
A big and most pleasant surprise to us was the visit by the crew of a couple of US MARINES V-22 OSPREYS with their funny monkey mascot that were on static display on an apron nearby our pavilion. Sokratis gave them a short briefing / tour of the YAK as they were very interested about its structure, electronic set up and flight control characteristics. It was an honor! We thank you guys!
Sunday evening 23rd of September. The show has reached its end! The crowd has left the Tanagra Air Force base and having packed the YAK and the supporting equipment in the van for the long journey back to our base, we went to the VIP pavilion to attend the farewell ceremony/party. Tired but more happy than ever, we enjoyed being among friends both old and new made!
With our good friend Leonidas Karanatsis!
From left to right: Major Chatzigiorgos΄΄Daedalus΄΄Acro Team Pilot, Major Volakakis and Major Papadakis΄΄ZEUS΄΄Acro Team Pilots.
The evening ended with the conferment of commemorative awards to the Demo Teams which was interlarded with the usual enthusiastic whistles and shouts as it is common in the Aviators family! Our turn came and Mr Panagiotis Podimatas the President of the Organizing Committee kindly awarded our Team!
The 7th ATHENS FLYING WEEK already belongs to history! For all of us it has been an astonishing experience and a perfect opportunity to acquaint our Team and our passion for the RC aircrafts to a larger audience both Hellenic and International! The chance to meet new friends (in random order) such as Fokion Petritis (Ground Ops Manager), Leonidas Karanatsis (Commentator), Michalis Anastasiou (Member of the Organizing Committee), Manolis Karachalios (Flight Director) and many more was unique!
We heartily thank all those who believed in us and invited our Team to take part in the 7th ATHENS FLYING WEEK! We hope that we have fulfilled their expectations and contributed with as much as we could with our limited power to the successful conduct of the show.
We hope that we will be there again on the 8th ATHENS FLYING WEEK on the 21st & 22nd of September 2019!