The most northern
airshow in Europe in 2003 took place on June 14th in Luleň/Kallax. It is the home of the
F21. The F21 (Norrbottens flygflottilj) consists of 2 squadrons or as they are called in
Sweden Divisions. The 1st division operates the Saab 37 Viggen in the following
versions: ASJ37, JA37, SK37E. The 2nd division operates the Saab 39 Gripen. The
F21 also has a so called "Transportflyggruppe" with TP101 (=Beech 200) and SK60
In the swedish Flugvapnet the aircrafts are designated as follows: One up
to three letters contain the profile the aircraft is used for followed by a number e.g.
ASJ37: A = Attack, S = Spanning (which means reconaissance), J = Jakt 37 = Viggen. TP =
Transport, HKP = Helicopter and SK = Skol (Trainer).
There was of course a reason for celebrations. In july the F21 became 40.
The days in Luleň are very long in june. Its not getting dark during the night
and the sun is just vanishing behind the horizon for a short while. So no need for a hurry
and so the gates opened at noon. Around 40.000 people visited the airshow and found a lot
of airplanes in the static display. They enjoyed it to experience the aircraft first hand.
The static display was dominated by jets that were in use of the Flygvapnet (J29 Tunnan,
J32 Lansen & J35 Draken) or are in use like Sk60, Viggen and Gripen. There was no
Hawker Hunter as the Swedish Federal Aviation Authorities raised the fees for running
warbirds quite a lot. Several Versions of the Viggen and Gripen were on show including
weapons. Foreign participants were rare. The USAFE sent 2 F-15 from Lakenheath together
with a KC-135 from Mildenhall to Luleň. Die Finnish Air Force took part with the F-18C
and the RnoAF sent 2 F-16AM, the RAF two Jaguars and a Tornado GR.4. Several Warbirds and
civil planes were added to the static as well.
Nearly everything the Flygvapnet used after 1945 was shown in the flying display. The
show started with some parachute jumpers followed by a Recce-Run of a Viggen which took
photos of the audience. After that several historical planes were shown in the air e.g.
the Saab Safir, Saab B17, J28 Vampire, Tp83 Pembroke, Tiger Moths and a J26 Mustang. A
HKP9 (Bo-105) made a agile demonstration which underlined the capabilites of the
helicopter quite good. But there was more to come. Most of the spectators had already
noticed the Viggen which rested in the grass in front of the crowd with a collapsed front
gear since the start of the show. This aircraft is used for the training of the fire
department and rescue personal and that was demonstrated very impressive. It started with
a simulated explosion followed by a fire of the Viggen. The fire fighters came and did
their work. Then they had to open the canopy according the emergency procedures to get the
pilot out of the jet. The pilot was flown away with a HKP10. The front gear of the Viggen
was fixed and the jet was towed away. That all happened within a couple of minutes.
After that it was time again for some jets. It started with a four-ship of Viggen
followed by a solo display of a Lansen and a Draken. This Draken is the last flying
example in Sweden. Another Saab aircraft was demonstrated and it was the impressive Viggen
and four-ship Gripen could be seen. Then a Tp.84 Hercules took to the air and after that a
F-16 from Belgium and a F-18C from Finland showed their power. The Grand Finale consisted
of the Team 60 which operated only with four aircraft this year and the solo display of
the Gripen which also made a Fly-by with a Saab B17.
A small but very good show and you wont see a four-ship Viggen or Gripen outside
Text & Photos: RenÚ Kurzenberg