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The Zeltweg Airpower 2009; Zeltweg June 26, 2009

An Austrian International Air Show; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

For two days, the air base of the Austrian Zeltweg was the location for the Airpower 2009. With highlights such as the first Austrian Eurofighter and demo flights of participants from over 19 different countries, it would be an amazing air show. I was glad I could be there during this event.

The main purpose of the Airpower 2009 at Zeltweg was to show the Austrian Air Force with its material and its tasks in daily life. The equipment which was shown was quite diverse like several fighter aircraft and helicopters of the Austrian Air Force. Besides constant training, the Austrian Air Force has also a number of tasks in peace time such as guarding the Austrian airspace, medical flights and help during floods after heavy rainfall in the country full of mountains. Think about protection of the Austrian airspace from unauthorized visitors over this country. For this task, both planes and helicopters and also mobile radar equipment is used. The latest addition to the Austrian Air Force is the Eurofighter Typhoon which currently entered service. This plane will be the primary fighter of Austria. Also the Saab 105 is used for the air defensive task if necessary. It is a backup for the future Eurofighter Typhoon fleet.

Supporting civil authorities during disasters and accidents are one of the primary tasks of the Austrian Air Force. The Austrian Air Force is equipped various types of helicopters and the C-130 Hercules to execute these tasks. The helicopter fleet is mostly used during floods, avalanches, forest fires and traffic accidents. Furthermore, a special team which is called the MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) is responsible for medical evacuations'. This is done so far with helicopters, but in the near future also the Hercules will be used for this goal. The Austrian Hercules will be deployed around the world for humanitarian tasks such as food supply in disaster areas like the areas in Asia a few years ago which was hit by the tsunami.

Besides the tasks in peacetime, the Austrian Air Force is also deployed in various crisis areas around the world. The largest Austrian troops abroad at this moment are located in Kosovo where a helicopter unit provides support to various ground troops

of the United Nations and NATO. The task of the Austrian Air Force is to transport troops and goods to deserted and difficult to reach locations in the country. For the Austrian troops in Chad, the Hercules is an air bridge between Austria and their current location. The Hercules a very important factor for the Austrian troops who are sent abroad with a capacity of over 20.000 kilograms and a flight range of 4000 km.

It was a nice and sunny morning with a clear blue sky when we got stuck in a small traffic jam on the road to Zeltweg. It was quite busy on the road because of the Zeltweg Airpower 2009. Once we had parked our car in an especially dedicated area for this event, we could start our walk to the main entrance of the airbase of Zeltweg. It seems the Austrians were already busy in the early morning, because it was already crowded next to the runway of the Zeltweg Airpower. I decided to position myself halfway the main runway next to the taxi track. The main goal of my trip to Zeltweg was to take photographs of as many Austrian helicopters as possible. I know from previous airshows that the main helicopter display is held at the centre of the runway. With this knowledge I decided to position myself in the middle of the runway during the show. My real goal of this visit to Zeltweg was photographing the Austrian Blackhawk helicopter. Austria is the only country in Western Europe next to the U.S. Army in Germany who operates this type of helicopter.

At half past nine the airshow was opened with the launch of three Saab 105 jet trainers. These three jets flew in a tight formation along the public. After the grand opening an Allouette III and an AB-206 Jet Ranger performed a short demo. This was a nice preview of what was coming up next during the show. The next demos would be some of the faster jets like e.g. the Dutch demo F-16 and a Hungarian Gripen. When the violence of those jets stopped the moment was there; a whole group of helicopters started up on the other side of the base and was ready for take-off. Eventually I got the jackpot because four S-70 Blackhawks, six Augusta Bell AB-212 and four OH-58 Kiowa Warriors went airborne in a big mass formation of helicopters. After take-off of all those helicopters the Austrian airpower demo could start. I was very lucky when all four the Blackhawks landed right in front of me in the grass; they came in to drop some ground troops during the demo. The Kiowa's were flying around continuously to secure the landing zone where the Blackhawks and the AB-212 just had landed.

The newest member of the Austrian Air Force took off immediately behind the demo of the Austrian helicopters; the Eurofighter Typhoon went airborne with full afterburner. These two aircraft were intercepting the Hercules which was already in the air. They would intercept it right above the base, sow spectators could see how this was performed. The Typhoons forced the Hercules to land when the interception was performed. The two Typhoons would give a very spectacular demo; with much noise they showed the maneuverability of the aircraft. It really was a spectacular demo when they performed a few low level high speed passes over the main runway. I had some nice photo opportunities during landing when those Typhoons came in. With the landing of the two Typhoons at 2 pm the demonstration of the entire Austrian air force was over and a demo of the Red Bull Air Race should start. For me this was not interesting enough to stay and therefore I decided to go back to the Netherlands which would be a long trip of more then eight hours. I saw where I came for and collected more than eight gigabytes of information on my photo cards of the camera. Instead of at least one Austrian Blackhawk on photo, I managed to get four of them. I total I managed to collect twenty one different Austrian Air Force helicopters on photo under decent weather conditions with a wonderful back ground. This made my trip a great success and I was able to look back on a great airshow.

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