Aerospace Forum Sweden Report
Saturday 2nd June - Sunday 3rd June 2012
2012 marks two large aviation landmarks in Sweden, these being the 75th Anniversary of SAAB and 100 Years of Swedish Aviation. Malmen Air Base, near Linkoping, played host to the Aerospace Forum which brought together a selection of industry leaders, military chiefs and government officials before rounding off with a two day public airshow.
reports for UKAR. All photography by the author.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't playing ball over the weekend, with dull grey cloud and a very chilly wind (I'm pretty sure that it's never been so cold in June that I could see my own breath before!). Anyway, with this being my first foreign airshow the weather did little to spoil my enthusiasm and my attention was focussed towards the Swedish classic jets. The best part of the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight was present at the show and a line-up of Sk60, J32 Lansen, Hunter, J29 Tunnan, J35 Draken and the recently restored JA37 Viggen greeted you on entry to the showground. The Swedes are evidently very proud of their aviation heritage with all the ex-Air Force types taking to the air on multiple occasions across the weekend, the highlight being the formation of all the SAAB jet types. The Lansen/Hunter pair, Tunnan, Draken and Viggen also all successfully performed displays on the Sunday, although the Saturday was a fairly different story as the Viggen went tech before its slot and the Tunnan burst a tyre on landing, which resulted in the Lansen and Hunter pairs display being canned.
The Swedish Armed Forces provided an array of aerial acts for the flying display including a 9-ship of the based Sk60s, a para-drop from a Tp84 Hercules, a very dynamic solo Gripen, a slightly less dynamic but still impressive 4-ship of Gripens and my personal highlight, the helicopter tactical display. This featured a pair of Hkp14s and Hkp16s dropping off troops to storm a hostile-held building, while two Hkp15s provided air cover and a single Hkp10 to recover wounded troops from the battle zone.
Other Swedish Air Force types present at the show included SAAB 340 variants the S100 and OS100 parked alongside the rarer S102 Korpen on static display.
Additional static rarities included a Tp86 Sabreliner sporting two rather large antennae trialling tactical reconnaissance systems, while two Gripens were of further interest as they were in the markings of the South African Air Force and the Thai Air Force; both aircraft still in Sweden before delivery to their respective air arms.
A South African Gripen performed a vigorous routine which saw the aircraft stay almost within the airfield boundary for the best part of the display, making it one of the most impressive aerial highlights of the weekend. Other foreign flying action came in the shape of a Finnish NH90, the Swiss Air Force's PC7 Team, the Breitling Wingwalker duo and the Batlic Bees display team, whose similarities with the Breitling Jet Team even go as far as their display soundtrack!
For me, I struggle to see how I could have picked a better event to take my foreign airshow virginity, with plenty of contemporary Swedish hardware and more classic jets than you could shake a stick at - and all for free too! The only gripes I had about the show were the lack of burger vans (instead a huge number of stalls that sold popcorn and liquorice!?), and the fact that the larger aircraft displayed some way to the south of the airfield due to a car park being situated on the other side of the main runway, although for once it was nice to actually sit back and watch the displays rather than seeing them through a viewfinder. But these issues were nothing in comparison to the sights that I witnessed and excitement that I felt over that weekend, and I can't wait to return to what is a beautiful country (both women and countryside wise!) next year for the Gothenburg Aero Show. Even if that event is only half as good as Malmen's show then I suggest you consider making the trip too.