Göteborg Aero Show 2008 Review
Saturday 30th August - Sunday 31st August
There was me thinking that 2008 was going to be a year to be spent doing the usual circuit of UK shows, with a lack of interesting European shows to tempt me onto the continent. Then around mid-June an e-mail entitled "Hey! Have you seen this?" arrived in my inbox. Gothenburg airshow... Lansen! Draken! Tunnan! It continued, "30-31st August. What do you think?". The e-mail finished. A quick check of the diary, a brief chat with the good lady wife and a look at Ryanair.com all confirmed that we could be there and back in a weekend and fairly cheaply too. I replied to my UKARian friend. "Sounds good. Flights are only a tenner. Let's do it!"
reports from sunny Sweden. Additional photography from .
The Göteborg (Gothenburg) aeroshow is the largest airshow in Sweden this year and the Swedish Armed Forces' main airshow for 2008. Göteborg Airport is a former military base known as Säve, which was home to the Swedish Air Forces (Flygvapnet) F9 Göta Wing, which operated the J29 Tunnan and later Hawker Hunters until the base was closed in 1959. Säve is now home to Ryanair, Wizz, Air Berlin, the Swedish Coast Guard and Gothenburg's general aviation community.
The purpose of the trip was to see the wonderful fast jets of the Swedish Air Forces Historic Flight. Unfortunately the J35 Draken went unserviceable in the weeks leading up to the show, which was a real shame. Jet participation was two J32 Lansens, J29 Tunnan, Vampire T11 and a Swiss schemed Hunter F58. The modern day JAS 39 Gripens represented Flygvapnet.
For me the two J32 Lansens were the highlight of the show. Looking somewhat like a pimped-up Hunter, the J32 is a real man's aeroplane. Two variants of the type were on show, A J32B (32620) all-weather fighter version (and the last Lansen to be manufactured) and a J32D (32606) target tug complete with “DayGlo” red diamonds painted on the tail and wings. The Swedish Air Forces Historic Flight is based just up the road at Satanas AB and has three J32s on its books. The aircraft have an operational role as well as their display commitments; the Swedish Government Radiation Protection Institute fund a Lansen to undertake upper atmosphere air sampling using specially designed 'sniffer' pods to make early detections of any radioactive fall-out threat. The aircraft can be pre-flight checked and launched within four hours.
Warbirds on show included 'Blue Johan' the Flygvapenmuseums SAAB B17 plus the former Duxford resident Spitfire XVI RW386 and a Cavalier F-51D Mustang 2 now both privately owned by the Swedish equivalent of Halfords, Biltema. Also displaying was a very smart Flygvapnet schemed T-6 Harvard and a whole flock of DH Tiger Moths, some in the very attractive yellow and red colours of the Flygvapnet. The only overseas participant in the whole event was Dakota Norway's DC3. A small static display area held A Bombardier DHC-8, CASA 212 and a Cessna 337 Super Skymaster from the Kustbevakningen (Coast Guard) an Hkp4c (CH-46) plus a JAS39B Gripen. In the morning the two Lansens flew a tight pairs display before all of the historic types took to the air for some local flights, with the historic jets forming up into a four-ship formation fly past. Everything flew again in the afternoon, this time performing solo displays with the Gripen ending the show.
I have visited many airshows over the years and thought that I had seen it all, but I hadn't been to a show that had some of its static display underground before. Behind a one metre thick 180-ton blast doors and 30 metres under a small rocky hill, the subterranean hangar was constructed in the early 1950s to house the Flygvapnets F9 Wing's SAAB J29 Tunnans and later Hawker Hunters. Now it is home to the Aeroseum, a unique aviation museum dedicated to preserving not only the bunker system itself but Sweden's aviation history from Thulin A (Blériot XI) to a SAAB Viggen. The Aeroseum occupies the larger of the 2 bunkers at Säve. Named 'Nya Berget' it measures 22,000 sqm and is not only bombproof but can withstand almost direct hit from a nuclear weapon. Internally all the original equipment has not been stripped out and scrapped, looking just like the military moved out just yesterday. No visit to Sweden is complete without seeing a Viggen and the Aeroseum does not disappoint with two examples on show plus a Lansen and three Drakens. Frustratingly only the central area was open with the bays (including one holding a gorgeous splinter camouflaged JA 37 Viggen) closed for inspection.
As with most shows the Göteborg aeroshow had its plus and minus points. Real top marks go to the 'spotters package', which entitled the holder to tours of the flightlines, and entry to a dedicated roped off enclosure at the front of the crowd line for no extra cost. On the minus side, some truly mystifying Air Traffic Control instructions to the display aircraft to back-track down the main runway back to their parking spots instead of taking the perfectly good taxiway in front of the crowd. Although this made me use some 'industrial language' at the time my fellow UKARian travelling companions and I had a very enjoyable weekend at the Göteborg aeroshow. Hopefully the organisers want to make this show an annual event in the future, and I for one would have no hesitation in making a return visit.