All photos me too, copyrighted
With the winter clampdown at the field proceeding as planned despite the unusually warm weather – leading to some serious photo-deprivation – I thought I’d dig through my database and cobble together a short post to keep this blog going until something new happens :). And noticing that they’re strangely under-represented in my previous posts, I’ve decided to concentrate a bit on helicopters.
Despite Lučko being somewhat of a hub for general aviation in this part of Croatia, we don’t often see many civil helicopters. Apart from one local Robinson R-44 – and the five-strong Police squadron – we don’t have much of a choice here, the limiting factor being fuel availability. A vast majority of civil-registered helicopters in the country are turbine-powered, and the lack of Jet A at Lučko (except for military and police use) means we’re not all that interesting :). Nevertheless, I’ve given it my best shot and this is what I’ve come up with…
1. Sud SE.3130 Alouette III, 9A-HAT:
First on the list is a very rare 1961. Alouette III, by far and away the oldest helicopter in Croatia. Operated by Eudora Let Vodice based at Zemunik airbase (LDZD) near Zadar, this fascinating whirlybird is a rare visitor to Lučko, having last been here almost two years ago. Unfortunately, it was damaged about a week ago, when a drunk police officer crashed his car through the Zemunik perimeter fence (a public road crosses one of the taxiways) and caused significant damage among the aircraft on the apron – including totaling AK Zadar‘s C172.
2. Bell 206B JetRanger II, 9A-HBC:
Second up is – what are the odds – the second oldest helicopter in the country, manufactured in 1973 :). A nowadays rather rare JetRanger II, 9A-HBC is operated by the Croatian Police, mostly used for training, personnel and liaison flights. One of my favorite helicopters here, it’s always a joy to catch it flying. It’s a very photogenic thing :).
3. Agusta-Bell AB.212, 9A-HBM:
The “heavy” of the non-military helicopter world here, 9A-HBM is and remains the largest helicopter flying in the country, as well as one of only two twins. Produced by Agusta in Italy, HBM is also operated by the Police and is an active participant in SAR, EMS and firefighting missions down at the coast. The only helicopter with some hauling capacity, it is also used by special forces during rappelling missions.
4. Bell 206B-3 JetRanger III, 9A-HBZ and 9A-HDB:
Representing the Police some more are 9A-HBZ and HDB, both JetRanger IIIs. Filling pretty much the same roles as HBC, they’re the most often seen Police helicopters, bearing the brunt of the squadron’s work.
6. Robinson R-44, 9A-HDM and HWA:
And to finish it all off, some piston power! 🙂 Alphabetically leading is our resident R-44 Clipper II owned by MD Heliko, these last few days happily flying aerial photography missions all afternoon. HWA, a Raven II, is a visitor from Varaždin owned by WinAir, a machine you’ve already had the chance to see in my CIAV airshow report :).