Airshow Report – 2010 Lučko Airshow Highlights

By me
All photos copyrighted

While the traditional Lučko Airshow had often enough ended up being little more than a “village airshow” – despite the good intentions of everyone involved – this year’s event, celebrating the centenary of aviation in Zagreb, was showing a lot more promise from the get-go :). The initial participant list alone was enough to get the blood flowing – and the photo finger itchy 😀 – with the likes of the DeHavilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide, and the extremely rare ex-Yu Ikarus Kurir, on the headlines; not to mention the first public flight of a lovingly built replica of the first aircraft designed in Croatia, way back in 1910 :).

Even though a few organizational issues, and the dreary and foul weather on 28 August (the original show day), had distilled that list somewhat – the Dragon Rapide and Kurir sadly dropping out – there still remained a number of very interesting aircraft to see and photograph :). So on 29 August, hoping for clear skies and good light – and with the assistance of Ms. Matea Makek, manning my old Canon 20D 🙂 – I set course for the field to see what’s what…

This after all being "Achtung, SKYHAWK!", I had to start off with... well some Skyhawks :D. Incidentally, these three N models and one R - representing my university's aviation department - are all the 172s I've flown so far, with 9A-DDD (in the bottom right corner) the aircraft on which I've logged the most hours 🙂 (normally owned by Ecos Pilot School - where I got my wings - but currently on loan to the university)

The afternoon's building cumulus clouds had provided some outstanding backdrops...

... which were at all odds with the morning's thick fog and single digit temperatures (in August!). All covered up about four hours before the start of the show, this Mil Mi-171Sh - coded 227 - was the only Air Force aircraft up for display, the rest of the fleet being parked at the far end of the apron (out of harm's way 😀 )

At long last, finally photographed in the air! 🙂 Even though it had first flown about two weeks ago, this is the first time I've seen it in flight. Makes a pretty nice noise too...

But by far the biggest attraction of the show was the CA-10 "Penkala", a modern replica of the Penkala P-3, the first Croatian aircraft :). Designed by famed inventor Slavoljub Penkala - the father of the fountain pen - the P-3 had attempted to take off in 1910, but never made it beyond a few hops due to some deficiencies in its design. Intending to set that right, the CA-10 was conceived as "modernized" P-3, upgraded using today's aerodynamic laws (and an 80 HP Rotax, with four times the power of the 24 HP engine that Penkala had used). Interestingly enough, the whole aircraft was built by hand using only archive photos because the original blueprints have long been lost. Unfortunately, due to its paperwork not being ready, it had not flown at the show, a huge source of disappointment for many...

Another beautiful sight: the first jet aircraft to land at Lučko in more than 20 years! 🙂 Part of the Stars aerobatic team hailing from Serbia, this Soko G-2 Galeb - the most famous aircraft produced by the Yugoslav aviation industry - was one of the absolute attractions of the show. Mind you, it did have less than an elegant entrance - especially for a type designed to operate from unpaved strips - when it ran over a huge bump on the runway, ramming its nose wheel strut all the way to its stop. But some manpower later - a couple of us to lift the nose and allow the strut to extend back into normal position - and all was right again! 🙂

A shot inspired in part by a popular F-104 Starfighter photo on Airliners.net... 🙂

Taxiing out for its display, with its nose strut again at its stop. Despite the G-2's fantastic low-speed abilities, YU-YAK had used up virtually every meter of Lučko's 880 m (2890 ft) runway for the takeoff run. Powered by a Rolls-Royce Viper turbojet - a design from the late 50s - the G-2 needs some time and distance to accelerate when on the ground...

Another gem at the show was this Polikarpov Po-2 from neighboring Slovenia. The second most produced aircraft in history, the Po-2 is often nicknamed "The Flying Sewing Machine" due to the specific sound of its 125 HP 5-cyl Shvetsov M-11 radial. I've always thought that to be an understatement - until I first heard it... :D.

Operated in great numbers by virtually every air force in the Eastern Bloc, the Po-2 can - despite its age - be often seen on airshow circuits in Eastern and South-eastern Europe. This example, registered S5-MAY, was produced in 1937 and is still happily flying 73 years later :).

Further up the performance range, international aerobatics champion Zoltan Veres (Hungary) was showing off just what the fantastic MX Industries MXS could do. Seen here in a knife-edge flyby, with his right wing just a foot - confirmed! - off the ground...

Mr. Veres tearing through the skies in the most impressive and exciting display of the show

The only participant with a mostly vertical display, Mr. Veres had also flown the impressive "pierced heart" maneuver - not at all easy to do when you have only one aircraft and little time before the smoke blows away!

Up close with N540XX, painted in the shades of the Hungarian flag. One of the first aerobatic aircraft built entirely of carbon fiber - without an underlying metal structure - the MXS weighs less than 600 kg, but can have up to 350 HP up front, making for utterly bewildering performance in the vertical plane. Its agility in the horizontal is hardly less impressive, with a demonstrated roll rate of 450 degrees per second 🙂

Willing to participate every time, the Air Force "Krila Oluje" aerobatic team had put on another fine display. Four of the team's Pilatus PC-9Ms are seen here holding under increasingly impressive skies while the team's two solos (out of shot) position themselves for a low-level crossing pass

Always the show-stopper, "Kockica" - or "little square", named for its "ILS shack" Croatian coat of arms paint scheme - thunders loudly away at full bore :). One of the three remaining MiG-21 operators in Europe - with Romania and Bulgaria - Croatia is fast becoming one of the last sanctuaries of this fantastically charismatic jets on the continent...

An elevated overview of the field an hour before the start of the show, with two beautiful classics, an UTVA Aero 3 (left) and the Po-2 (right) facing off across the main taxiway (with the former to be covered in more detail in my next post 🙂 ). Complimenting them is An-2 9A-DIZ in the background, while in the distance the Medvednica mountain range - and a wall of puffy cumulus clouds forming atop it - complete the scene

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