Satenas Airshow 2006 Review
Sunday 18th June
Sweden's approach to military aviation has always been a fiercely independent one. Wherever possible, in the eight-decade existence of the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet), the trend has been to use home-grown technology, making Sweden a veritable mecca for foreign aviation enthusiasts. June 18th, 2006 saw a stunning airshow held at Satenas, north of Gothenburg, to mark the Flygvapnet's 80th anniversary. On show was Swedish hardware new and old, and hundreds of overseas enthusiasts, together with an estimated 42,000 locals enjoyed this wonderful and free show.
reports from Sweden for UKAR. Additional photography from and .
It's no exaggeration to say that the Satenas show, held on June 18th, will go down as one of the best airshows of 2006. Where else this year will the flying display boast full displays from a Tunnan, Lansen, Draken and the mighty Viggen? Not to mention Swedish rarities like the Saab B17 and Tummelisa replica.
Gates at Satenas opened at 8am sharp, and the first destination was the small, but perfectly formed static display. One or two were heard to quibble about the size of the static, but the truth must be that though it was small in number of aircraft, every single item was a gem.
The USAF had sent a C-17 from McChord, there was a Hungarian MiG-29, Finnish Air Force F-18, Danish and Norweigan F-16s, not to mention home-based Gripens and Tp-84s - the local designation for the C-130 Hercules. This was a static with no "filler" aircraft. Barriers were generously positioned for photography too.
There was also a fine selection of classic jets in the static display, several of which would go on to fly later in the day. There was the J-28 (de Havilland Vampire), a lovely squat J-29F Tunnan, two J-32 Lansens, a J-34 (Hawker Hunter), and a quite stunning two-seat J-35 Draken in bare metal finish. She was quite possibly the most photographed of all the aircraft in the static, so no apologies for the gratuitous couple of shots sneaking into this review, either!
What made the show for many of the overseas enthusiasts was the excellent, free, "spotter's package" laid on by the Flygvapnet. Having e-mailed your request for admission prior to coming to Sweden, there was access to a large special enclosure next to the main taxiway, as well as a superb bus tour of the airshow flightline, static park and also, unexpectedly, a visit to the operational Gripen pan for a chance to photograph the local aircraft. There were at least 25 Gripens parked up, including the specially-marked solo display machine.
Flying started at 11am with some of the earliest aircraft from the 80 years of Swedish military flying. First up was a very energetic routine from the Tummelisa replica - a training biplane from the 1920s. Other machines to feature included the North American Harvard, de Havilland Tiger Moth and Saab B17 dive bomber, which made a superb arrival, diving steeply using it's 'cricket pad' undercarriage as dive brakes.
Foreign flying participation was limited to the French-based Breitling Jet Team, the Swiss Air Force PC-7 Team, the Danish Air Force F-16 and an excellent display from the Finnish Air Force's F-18 Hornet, complete with lots of vapour.
We also saw the Swedish national jet display team - Team 60. Compared to many national teams their display might seem rather tame, with their Saab 60s seeming pretty underpowered. Nonetheless the display was neat and tidy with good, close formation flying.
But the stars of the show were the historic Swedish jets. Unlike several nations, the Swedes take huge pride in their retired home-built aircraft, and endeavour to keep at least one example of each in an airworthy order. As well as solo routines from the Vampire, Lansen and Tunnan, we were treated to an exceptional display from the Draken, with lots of energy, afterburner and vapour, but even that paled with the sheer spectacle of the SK-37E Viggen, one of a handful still operational, this example came from Forsokcentralen (Central Trials Establishment at Malmslatt).
Word was the display would only feature straight and level flight, but fortunately this turned out to be just 'spottertalk'. Lots of afterburner, several passes and topped off by the old Viggen favourite, landing, reversing, turning round and taking off again. An outstanding aircraft, and while the display had been brief, I doubt there was one person on the base who witnessed it who felt that the trip hadn't been worthwhile just to see the Viggen in action.
So The display now moved into the modern era, with the overseas solo fast jets, a parachute-and-flare drop from a Tp-84 Hercules and a demonstration of water bombing from a Hkp 10 Super Puma. Other rotary participation came in the shape of a two ship team routine from a pair of Bolkow 105s.
Another great spectacle, and again something never seen outside of Sweden, was a 14-ship stream launch of Gripens, and a four-ship launch of Tp-84s who disappeared to formate in the show's grand finale - a mass flypast to mark the 80th anniversary of the Flygvapnet.
The only problem all day was the position of the sun. The skies were clear and virtually cloudless, but the photographers who stayed on base were left rueing the fact that the sun was directly in front of them. Those who went outside for the flying were richly rewarded with some excellent photographic opportunities.
The evening's flight back to Stansted was full of happy, sunburnt enthusiasts. Special praise must go to all involved at F7 at Satenas for putting on a show with such friendly hospitality which did enormous credit to the Flygvapnet, and marked the anniversary in a most spectacular and fitting fashion. There must also be thanks to the Swedes for such fine foresight in organising such a great "spotters package". They certainly did not have to put such a system in place, but it made for a superb experience.
All in all an excellent show - and for anyone considering a trip to a Swedish display in the coming years, it certainly comes richly recommended.