All photos me too, copyrighted
Pretty much one of the hottest topics in the country of late, the recent presidential elections – which had seen the ascension of Croatia’s first ever female president – is not really the type of material I care for here at Achtung, Skyhawk!. However, being an international political event of some significance, the subsequent formal inauguration was certain to draw some interesting machinery to Zagreb Airport, machinery that would inevitably include some of my favorite photographic fare – bizjets :). Even though the final guest list had left something to be desired from a purely diplomatic standpoint – having stopped at just a tad over 10 delegations – the initial reports of the aircraft types expected had suggested an eclectic mix of both Western and Eastern designs, itself more than enough to pique my interest!
Thankfully, having managed to organize ourselves well ahead of time, several colleagues and myself had been able to secure access to the airport’s observation terrace (nowadays, sadly, permanently closed to visitors), allowing us to observe proceedings from the best available seats in the house. Unfortunately, Zagreb’s winter haze – and the (understandable) requirements of airport security with regards to parking positions – had interfered somewhat with our work, the results of which may not be up to my usual HQ standard…
The first arrival of the day – touching down before the morning mist has had time to fully clear – YU-BNA of Serbia really is a sight for sore eyes. One of the timeless classics of the already elegant Falcon family, the 50s was the world’s first proper business “tri-holer”, and would become Dassault’s passport into the high end of the segment. Even though these originals are nowadays few and far in between, the design lives on as the more modern 900 – two of which would also visit Zagreb within the hour.
First a Falcon 50 and then a Learjet 60 – not a bad way to start the day! Crisp, clean and elegant, Z3-MKD was the second visitor to arrive, hailing from Macedonia (the country, not the Greek province).
The good news had continued with visitor #3, which had taken the form of a Challenger 601-3A from the Czech Republic. Another classic, the 601 model was an important step up from the original 600 and 600S (the first ever Challengers), and had laid down the power plant, range and weight bases for today’s popular models 604 and 605.
The biggest visitor though would fly in from Poland – with this not even being its first time at Zagreb. Together with its sister ship SP-LIH, LIG is actually owned by Polish flag carrier LOT – but is operated on behalf of the country’s government.
Completely devoid of any registration markings on either side, the French Gov’t Falcon 900 strikes a nearly identical pose as YU-BNA (for a handy comparison). With the imminent arrival of Italy’s own example, we would soon have a whole Falcon Meet!
The aforementioned Italian Falcon taxiing towards the GA apron. Given that Zagreb’s apron is not all that commodious – and space was needed for all the scheduled flights – the inauguration visitors were scattered all over the place, with some on the GA apron, some on the cargo/widebody positions – and one even on the Croatian government apron…
Unfortunately, this had meant that the two most interesting machines of the day had ended up on the far side of the apron… hailing from Slovakia and Hungary respectively, OM-BYL and 407 were by far the loudest aircraft of the day, with the Yak-40 excelling during reverse – and the An-26 everywhere else…
And finally, the last visitor of the day – and by far the most unexpected. Operated by the German Air Force, 14+02 is one of a significant number of military/VVIP/communications Globals in service worldwide – one of the few roles where it was able to outsell its fierce competitors, the Gulfstream IV/V and Embraer Legacy 600/650.
Antonov, Bombardier (x2) and Yakovlev – not a bad day out I must say!