From the 20th to the 22nd of September the skies over Tanagra Air Force Base in central Greece were full of roar and smoke because of the 8th ATHENS FLYNING WEEK which was running on ΄΄full steam΄΄ !
An almost brand new 3,5 ton ΄΄MERCEDES SPINTER 313΄΄ with turbodiesel engine was the best match to our needs.
It proved to be the right one because of the cavernous loading space, the roomy driver΄s cabin and the long range capability due to its powerful engine and 6 speed gear box. Of course it was decorated on all sides with stickers of our emblem and moto!
This year our team was present in numbers including the 2nd demo pilot Achilles along with Konstantina (wife of Sokratis) and Charis (wife of Dimitris) both acting as most valuable Ground Crew, so six (6) of us couldn’t ΄΄squeeze΄΄ in just one Van! Konstantinos contributed the second vehicle to the convoy with his personal MPV, decorated with the team΄s emblem and moto!
This year we were proud and thankful to be sponsored to our effort by ΄΄EGNATIA AVIATION΄΄ the No 1 pilot΄s school in Greece
and the Municipality of KAVALA, our home town!
The organizers of AFW 2019 proudly announced some days before the show the participant΄s list, either for static or static/flying demos which was really astonishing, including several civilian and military individual aircrafts and aerobatic teams.
AFW 2019 – Civilian confirmations
Among the civilian confirmations we were more than happy and honored to see our team along the other topnotch participants!
Friday the 20th was the rehearsal day. We had to be early in the morning in Tanagra AFB to receive our accreditations at the main gate. Having this in mind, travel through the night of Thursday 19th to Friday 20th was a ΄΄must΄΄ in order to be in time in Tanagra AFB, as the almost 600 Km journey and the relatively economical and safe speed of the convoy, plus rest stops, plus safety margin, dictated so.
We had the luxury of at least a second driver in each vehicle, so the distance didn’t have a serious impact on us, having the opportunity to enjoy it by making stops in various ΄΄Rest Areas΄΄ along the highway.
At 07:30 we reached the main gate of Tanagra AFB where we received our passes and bags with complementary gifts and detailed info from the AFW organizers distributed to each one of us by Maria Pilati the head of the (painstaking) accreditation department of the AFW.
Our first concern as soon as we reached our pavilion, was to start unloading the van and to set everything in order before the two (2) team pilots Sokratis and Achilles along with Chief Logistics Konstantinos and Chief Engineer Dimitris attended the first pilot΄s briefing. Konstantina and Charis remained at the pavilion area to continue with the preparation of our static display arrangement.
Tanagra AFB, Friday 20/09/2019, 08:15. Show ground area. It looks kind of empty……..
Rc Kavala Acro Team convoy parking lot! (Picture taken on Saturday)
The very first to welcome us was our good friend Panagiotis Kossivakis (ex-Hellenic Navy, Aegean Sea Hawk engineer) member of the AFW organizing committee. He didn’t came empty handed, but with a gift from an Rc modeler to Rc modelers, which in this case was the Walkera V200D01 an electric helicopter which as Panagiotis had already told us days before we meet, was (and is) in perfect flight status. Panos quote ΄΄wanted to give it to someone who would appreciate and bring it back to life΄΄. Needless to say that the heli came along with an almost second one in spare parts!
Thank you Panagiotis for the heartily welcome, the support before and during the AFW and of course your gift!
Our good friend Leonidas Karanatsis was the second to greet us!
Leonidas being an ex-Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000-5 pilot and currently an airliner pilot, is the ΄΄voice΄΄ of the airshow from the very beginning!
Third in a row and a pleasant surprise was our friend Dimitris Ververelis mostly known as ΄΄WIZARD΄΄.
Dimitris expertly pilots an EC 120 sponsored by VOSTOK watches.
The time was running so after a few minutes together with Dimitris we headed towards the briefing room.
At 09:30 the first welcome and pilot΄s briefing was given by the flying display director (F.D.D), ex-Hellenic Airforce and first ZEUS Demo Team pilot Manolis Karahalios who gave (as every year does) a highly detailed and focused to the point update of the rehearsal and actual show flights, restrictions and safety precautions, points of contact and several more most needed informations. A Hellenic Airforce meteorologist Officer added his weather update for the three days ahead of us.
As we were waiting at the yard of the briefing room we had the change to take the first pictures!
FRIDAY 20th SEPTEMBER 2019 (REHEARSAL DAY)
This year our good friend Fokion Petritis was ΄΄up to the neck΄΄with his duties (as usual Fokion is) so we had no opportunity to spend enough time with him. Nevertheless he was at the holding area on Friday to give us the thumps up for our –cancelled finally- rehearsal flight!
At this point, emphasis has to be rightfully given to the Ground Crew members, Konstantina and Charis, who took care of everything in our pavilion, distributed the pamphlets from the Municipality of our home town Kavala, acted as highly skilled photographers (Konstantina), heartily addressed to everyone with their smile and kindness! It was a most needed addendum to our Team in comparison with our last year΄s personnel strength.
Weather-wise the meteorological prognosis was a little frustrating for Friday the 20th but most promising for the next two days of the main event. Special mention about the cloud ceiling had already been given by the H.A.F meteorologist during his briefing, but finally the weather against all predictions, was relatively fair through Friday, except locally registered excessive N-S wind gusts 900 to the runway.
Our rehearsal flight was scheduled for 15:30 but dew to a last minute problem with the ignition of the DLE 170 and the tight timings, we had to ask the F.D.D to cancel our rehearsal flight and give us (if possible) another time slot early next morning, Saturday the 21st before the beginning of the show. The Jordanian Hawks for their own reasons requested the same, so at 11:00 on a windy but sunny Saturday we had our time slot!
SATURDAY 21st SEPTEMBER 2019 (1st DAY)
At 10:40 we were waiting at the specified holding area a little bit anxious but ready for the rehearsal flight which actually wasn’t a rehearsal at all, but an actual demo flight (soundtrack included), because from 08:30 the gates of the AFB were open and spectators had already flooded the show area by the hundreds!
The flight followed the program to the point and we received a warm spectator’s applause at the end. This year we had new ΄΄cards in our sleeve΄΄ which were (except the new dynamic flight program along with a new equally motivating soundtrack), smoke generators attached to the wingtips of the YAK.
They were electrically ignited with an ON/OFF switch of the HITEC AURORA 9. We used alternatively RED & YELLOW smoke generators (2 min duration emission of dense smoke) which created the best contrast with the partially clouded sky.
Our demo pilot’s outfit was supplemented with transmitter harnesses especially made by REVOC for us with our National Flag, the pilot’s name and our team emblem.
The second flight of the day was scheduled for 14:30. By that time the wind had picked up some notches but it was no match for the powerful DLE 170 spinning a carbon 30×12 prop.
Before each take off and as a last step before the awakening of the DLE, Achilles and Dimitris connect the terminals of the smoke grenades to the outlets of the igniters after the system (transmitter & receiver) is powered and checked in order to eliminate the phenomenon of self-ignition of the grenades when the initial power surge runs through the system of the YAK.
Position the aircraft in the middle of the runway, Achilles acts as a starter, Dimitris secures the YAK by the tail, choke ON, ignition ON and the DLE coughs! Choke OFF and the DLE roars! Sokratis and Achilles communicate with short pre-arranged words. Neither Konstantinos nor Dimitris intervene. Moments to be cherished of a Team working as a fine tuned clock. Every move is like choreography thoroughly practiced from the Team members many times in the past.
Meantime our good friend and narrator Leonidas Karanatsis with his unmatched way, introduces our Team through the loudspeakers to the spectators!
Music ON, throttle gradually to FULL and the YAK needs minimum runway to get airborne….
The flight program evolves normally when the Safety Officer receives an urgent message in his handheld radio send by the F.D.D, warning him that a MAULE glider towing is at the final.
The BIG BOYS have priority, so we had to disrupt our flight somewhere in the middle of our program and land. Unfortunately bad luck stroke at that moment as a strong 900 wind gust just before the YAK minimized its speed on the runway, forced it to pivot violently on its right wheel axle. The result was a broken axle, a slightly damaged wheel cover and a lot of frustration…..
Nevertheless the tech department… took over and within 30 minutes the axle was replaced and the wheel covers where removed.
Because the F.D.D interrupted our demo flight, he most kindly rewarded us by appointing a new time slot in the afternoon of the same day. At 17:00 we took our usual place at the holding area ready for the afternoon performance.
This time we chose to carry the YAK to the holding area to avoid the short bumpy towing having second thoughts about the new wheel axel.
Some last minute changes in the flight list meant that we had to take off with the sun already low in the horizon. This delay gave us sufficient time to make the final checks and to take photos with our friends Leonidas and Aggelos who had a short break from the narrator duties.
Our friend and first class Rc pilot George Papagiannis, came also for a some last minute chat and photo and to give his wishes for safe landing having in mind the Murphy’s Law implementation earlier in the day!
George who performed with his giant Ultimate biplane powered by a DA 170 gave his own fight with the wind but completed a top class flight! Together we had the chance to be photographed earlier this day.
The rather long wait gave us the opportunity to take some realistic close up pictures of the cockpit and the ever patient pilot of the YAK!
Finally the time had come! Some last minute guidance and following the same procedures as before, the YAK was airborne!
Smooth flight, complete flight program and landing followed by a warm applause on behalf of the spectators completed a rather compelling Saturday!
SUNDAY 22nd SEPTEMBER 2019 (2nd DAY)
12:15 LT take off! The show at its peak! Thousands of spectators, sunshine, but still gusty wind.
Take off on time! The flight program flows.
The DLE unexplainably quit roaring and a dead stick landing was performed followed by a non-pre-designed stop in front of the spotter’s platform that had the opportunity to take a lot of pictures and video with the smoke generators still burning! In the same time the narrator Leonidas expertly ΄΄saved the day΄΄ with a relevant comment!
Watch it in YouTube from 1.06 minute
FORD GREECE was again this year among others, one of the sponsors of AFW.
A short promotional video includes various flight scenes including some of our YAK from 0.52 sec.
TRACTION a well-known TV series dedicated a short video to AFW 2019.
Starting from o.28 min are some scenes from one of the flights in Saturday
Another video made by Sotiris Skevis. Starting from 1.59 min are some scenes from one of the flights in Saturday.
One more by gvlacom from the spotter’s platform this time, which shows our 2nd flight on Saturday the 21st (prematurely ended due to the priority landing of the glider towing aircraft)
Also a promotional video of our Team was made by us and expertly montaged by the experts of the AFW. It was projected among videos of the other participants from the giant tv screens that were strategically placed at the exhibition area and it was uploaded in AFW channel in YouTube.
Through the three days of the show, the individual participants and team members had free pass to the 114 Fighter Wing Officer΄s Mess. The buffet could satisfy every taste with special care for our friends the members of the Jordanian Hawks aerobatic team.
Our friends Marianna and Paraskevi had everything in order and everyone satisfied! We thank you!
Between flights we tried to squeeze maintenance of the YAK, dealing with the dozens of visitors and aeromodellers from all over Greece to our pavilion and paying visits to other exhibitors and aerobatics teams.
As said before ΄΄EGNATIA AVIATION΄΄ one of our SPONSORS was present in AFW with their own pavilion. George Triantafillidis the marketing director came to visit us and so we had the chance to take a picture in front of the sizableness banner which proudly decorated one side of our pavilion.
Later in the day we requited his visit when finally we found enough time to visit the pavilions of the other teams.
First stop at ΄΄EGNATIA AVIATION΄΄
VOSTOK watches pavilion and Dimitris Ververelis were next!
A longtime dear friend, an ex-Hellenic Army Officer, pilot of Bell UH-1 (HUEY), aeromodeller, graphics designer and illustrator, Alexis Dalidis with his infinite humor monopolized our walk around! Alexis is an expert in aviation related themes on T-shirts, which they were almost sold out during the AFW!
Just besides Alexis were the pavilion of the
Needless to say that these free jumpcoholics…. amazed everyone during the two days of AFW with their hazardousness jumps!
The Municipality of Kavala our home town, as being our second sponsor, was advertised with a banner and dozens of pamphlets that Konstantina and Charis distributed to the spectators and visitors of our pavilion. Needless to say that approximately more than 1000 pamphlets both in Greek and English language were given!
Among other promotional material, we had also pamphlets (in Greek) presenting in short our Team. The Ground Crew team had some extra workload!
Something that made all of us feel proud and at the same moment excited, it was the request to write autographs…….
Great honor was attributed to our Team by the visit of our friends the Hellenic Air Force ΄΄DAEDALUS΄΄ Aerobatic Team members!
The great honor and at the same time the great joy was completed by the visit of members of the Hellenic Air Force ΄΄ZEUS΄΄Demo Team!
A family photo in both occasions was a MUST!
A very nice and touching surprise was the visit of Hellenic Army (Special Forces) General Nomikos who is a classmate in the Hellenic Military Academy and a BROTHER IN ARMS of our Chief Engineer Dimitris.
Brigadier Charalampos Badimaroudis a highly skilled AH-64 Apache pilot, Commander of the Hellenic Army Aviation Brigade and longtime friend, spend some time with us among his other duties!
Christos Kaitsas an expert aeromodeller and dear friend from the beautiful city of PATRA came to visit us and spend some time full of modeler’s chit-chat! Safe landings dear friend!
Michalis Anastasiou, friend, expert Rc & airline pilot, owner of AVIODREAM PILOT΄S SCHOOL and member of the AFW organizing committee couldn’t be absent! It gives to all of us a great pleasure every time we have the chance to meet you dear friend!
One of us – in this case Sokratis- was lucky the next day Monday the 23rd to spend with his wife Konstantina, some unforgettable moments with Michalis! The rest of us had to drive back to our home town….. The photos are undeniable…..
The exciting day ended……… but let the picture below speak by itself…..
Luca Bertossio the official RED BULL glider pilot came to visit us! For the 8th consecutive year, Luca took part in AFW and amazed everyone with his incredible performance.
Crew members of an U.S Hercules C-130J on their way to the apron where the legend aircraft was parked as a static display, shared some time with us engaged in a mostly technical conversation with our Chief Engineer Dimitris!
We shared some aviation wise profitable time with Christos Poumos, an aircraft engineer and instructor in the IKAROS AVIATION TRAINING CENTER and an expert in smoke systems and pyro techniques which we have started to use in our performances.
Next to our pavilion a dear friend Stelios Kontopoulos, had his own pavilion which was heavily ΄΄equipped΄΄ with embroidered patches, aviation promotional items and equipment for the Air Force, Army, Navy, police and other services in Greece and throughout Europe.
Stelios is ex CH-47 CHINOOK Hellenic Army Aviation Brigade pilot, an aeromodeller, an ultralight pilot and flight instructor of the highly active Aero club of Larisa in central Greece.
CLOSING CEREMONY (SUNDAY EVENING)
Finally at about 20:00 the airshow reached its end with a magical night flight by Johan Gustafsson!
All of us tried our best to pack all of our gear back to the van in order to be ready for the overnight return journey to Kavala. At 20:30 tired but satisfied we went to the V.I.P area where the closing ceremony was about to begin.
There, first we enjoyed the rich buffet with our friends Leonidas and Aggelos, and then many things happened that completed the three (3) exhausting but at the same time most rewarding days.
First, the members of the DAEDALUS Demo Team gave us a framed picture of their T-6 TEXAN in flight with the inscription ΄΄To our friends of the Kavala Acro Team΄΄ and signed by all the Team members!
We thank you DAEDALUS it was a great honor to all of us!
Then we had the chance to share some moments and to take some ΄΄family΄΄ pictures with some of the best pilots in the aerobatic’s world!
Mika Brageot the world class aerobatic΄s pilot spend some time with us sharing knowledge with our Team΄s demo pilots Achilles and Sokratis!
We had first met and became friends with Frank van Houten in Tanagra at 2018, so the reunion at the same airshow a year later gave to all of us a great joy!
Dr Martin Graef needs no advertising! With his EXTRA 300S he amazed everyone with his performance!
Finally it was our turn to step on to the stage! Panagiotis Podimatas the AFW organizer called us to step on by saying among other compliments ΄΄we welcome this amazing team from Κavala΄΄. His words, the acceptance from the other members of the AFW organizing committee and the warm applause of the other participants, moved all of us and at the same time made us proud!
We believe that our efforts from the moment we decided to form this team back in 2013, motivated by our passion for rc airplanes, have been rewarded. We were also proud to represent and advertise our home town Kavala one of the most beatiful cities in Greece!
Last but not least, we are proud to demonstrate our NATIONAL FLAG, which decorates every aircraft in our fleet and the right shoulder in our outfit. We also hope to give a glimpse of the Greek aeromodelling to foreign spectators and aviation enthusiasts.