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Dopravniho Krídlo; Malacky-Kuchyña, June 9 & 10, 2010

Part 4: The Slovakian Transport Wing; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

After a very successful day at Malacky-Kuchyňa, I once again was welcome at this great base. This time the visit was meant to have a closer look at the Slovakian Transport Unit. The An-26 Curl and Let-410 transport aircraft of the Slovakian Air Force are based at Malacky-Kuchyňa.

Malacky-Kuchyňa is the second airbase of the Slovakian Air Force. The entire tactical transport fleet of the Slovakian Air Force is based at Malacky-Kuchyňa. The name of the transport unit is Dopravniho Krídlo "generála Milana Rastislava štefánika". The name Dopravniho Krídlo means “transport wing” in Slovak and it has the honorary title of General Milan Rastislav Štefánik. Milan Rastislav Štefánika was a fighter pilot in the French Air Force before he fought for Slovakia. From 1918 until 1919 he was the first War Minister of Czechoslovakia. Štefánik was a versatile man. He was a soldier, pilot, meteorologist and mathematician. When Austria-Hungary became involved in World War I, Štefánik understood that an Austrian defeat at the end of World War I would mean the end of the double monarchy of Austria-Hungary and the independence of the Slavic countries. The French trained him as a fighter pilot and he flew to Serbia in 1915. He returned to Paris after 30 combat flights with a ruined health. In Paris he met Edvard Beneš kernnen and he renewed his acquaintance with Tomáš Masaryk. He became vice president of the Czechoslovakian National Council. They prepared the independence of the country. Štefánik, who still was a French general, flew with two Italians from Udine to Bratislava in 1919 when his plane crashed. It would have been accidentally shot. In Slovakia it was believed as a political assassination. The death of Štefánik influenced the relations between the Slovaks and the Czechs continuously. Štefánik is considered as one of the founders of the independent Slovakian Republic.

Malacky-Kuchyňa was in the past the home base of the Slovakian fighter-bomber fleet. The no 2 Bombardovacie Letecké Krídlo (no 2 Fighter Bomber Wing) was based here. This unit flew the Su-22 Fitter and Su-25 Frog Foot. The Sukhoi's were retired in 2003. The transport fleet moved from Piešt'any to Malacky in the year 2001. The air base of Piešt'any had no longer an active duty and therefore the base was closed due to cut in funds. The Transport Wing at Malacky consists of two squadrons. The no 1 Dopravná

Roj 1 (no 1 Transport Squadron) is equipped with the An-26 Curl. The Slovakian Air Force has two camouflaged An-26 Curl aircraft in service for the medium and heavy transport tasks. Additionally, the unit had an An-24 Coke in the colors of the Biele Albatross, but this aircraft is nowadays in storage. There are plans to buy two new C-27J Spartans in the nearby future to expand the transport fleet. It is still unclear whether the Antonov will be kept or sold. The no 2 Dopravná Roj (no 2 Transport Squadron) at Malacky has several variants of the Czech built Let-410 Turbolet aircraft in service. The unit has one Let-410FG into service for aerial photography. To perform this task, this aircraft has a glass nose from which aerial photographs can be made. Up to three Let-410VP-E are used for light transport and VIP transport. These planes are white and wear the national markings. For VIP transport, also one Let-410VP-S is in service in addition to these three aircraft within the unit. Finally, the unit still has three aircraft of the type Let-410VP-T which is suitable for light transport duties.

Also today we had great weather like the day before during the base visit. We were visiting the Slovakian Transport Wing during today’s visit. During the visit we had the same guide as the day before. The first hangar which we passed contained an Antonov An-26 Curl. This was the only aircraft inside this building. Unfortunately it was in an impossible position for photography. This was the only Antonov on the base; unfortunately I wasn’t able to take some pictures of this type of aircraft. Fortunately, the whole platform was filled with Let-410's. Five of the six aircraft of the Slovakian inventory was currently in service and they were present at the platform at Malacky. The first Let-410 we were going to see was a special one. The aircraft in case was a Let-410FG which is used for aerial photography. This Let-410 is easily recognized by its glass nose. The aircraft was positioned in front of the hangar for a test run of the engines. We were allowed to photograph it. The machine looks wonderful in the sunlight and the background was just as beautiful. After a few minutes the engines were stopped and the test was finished. We walked to the other aircraft on the platform. The next Let-410 which I saw was a Let-410VP-E. At the last section of the platform were three Let-410’s parked side by side. The first one was a brown Let-410VP-T, the second one was a white Let-410VP-E14 and the last one was a gray Let-410VP-E20. The last aircraft in this line was only one year old and it is the latest addition to the transport unit. I took a lot of pictures of those three aircraft. In total I have missed only one Let-410, but later on during my trip through Slovakia I also would see this machine. Behind the L-39 hangars we saw an Antonov An-24 Coke and we walked to this aircraft. This Antonov is stored here and it was painted in the colors of the demo team Biele Albatross. This transport aircraft was withdrawn from use when the demo team was disbanded. My visit to the Transport Wing at Malacky was over after photographing the An-24. In the afternoon we visited the Slovakian Fighter Wing for the second time at Malacky.

I saw the sixth operational Let-41 one day later with the necessary luck at Slavnica. Slavnica is a small glider airfield a few miles north of Trencin. The moment we got there, there was a big exercise with paratroopers ongoing. The commandos of the Slovakian armed forces were busy with tactical parachuting. The green Let-410VP-T landed each time on the short grass strip of Slavnica to pick up a new group of paratroopers. I was able to take some nice pictures during the taxiing of the Let-410. This was a very beautiful sight, because you do not take these kinds of pictures every day of a Let-410 which is taxiing through the grass. This resulted in some very unique photographs under operational conditions. When the aircraft stopped at its parking spot, we asked one of the pilots if we could take any close-ups of this machine. With some great photos on my photo cards, I continued my way to my next stop which was Bratislava-Ivanka to visit the Ministry of Home Affairs.

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