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2011 Air Shows

Niederstetten AFB Open Days Germany, Sept. 18, 2011

Location: Niederstetten, Germany
Admission: FREE, Spotter package 25€
Parking: 5 Euro free bus shuttle to the airport
Value: Excellent
German BO-105PAH-1
Niederstetten is an old medieval town and a municipality in the Main-Tauber district, in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It is situated 19 km west of Rothenburg ob der Tauber.
On September 18 th, the German Army Aviation Corps celebrated their 40th anniversary of the THR 30 (Transporthubschrauberregiment = Transport helicopter regiment), and the 50th anniversary of the base Niederstetten. The air base was opened to the public with aerial demonstration capabilities of the regiment, and a combined display with the Swiss Air Force, Austrian Air Force and other helicopters.
The regiment in Niederstetten operates the iconic Dornier UH-1D Iroquois (Dornier built the UH-1 under license) and different versions of the MBB BO-105. The first UH-1D went into service in 1967 by the German Army Aviation Corps, and is still flying.
After the crash of the Frecce Tricolori in August 1988, there were no air shows in Germany. However, sometimes there are Spotter days or an open house at an AFB to see flying activities. This was one of those rare events in Germany, to see flying displays.
The organizers did everything to make the Opening Day Event successful for the general public. In addition for the real enthusiast, a limited number of “Spotter” passes were available for the day before the open house. Many journalists signed up to be accredited as a spotter, as this gave not only a day earlier access, but made photography easier without the crowds. We arrived on Friday, a day before Spotter day, and we decided to drive around the base to find a good spot to watch arrivals and rehearsals under ideal weather conditions. We were glad that we did, as we could see the Kaman Seasprite SH-2G from the Polish Navy approaching Niederstetten. Only four of these helicopters are in service by the Polish Navy on two frigates, thus normally one could not see the Kaman on mainland. This was definitely the highlight of the day. We were waiting for the US-Army helicopters to arrive, especially the brand new CH-47F, but our waiting was in vain.
Spotter day, September 17th
The Spotter day was well organized. Less than 400 Spotters were at the base. We received an anniversary badge and an anniversary print that showed the special painted UH-1D and lunch that was very good.
During the first half of the day, we could walk wherever we wanted. We had the chance to go opposite the field across the runway to the helicopters that took part in the flying display. We could freely walk into the hangars with one exception, the hangar that housed two new Tigers. Both of the Tigers are in flight testing by WTD-61 in Manching (WTD = Defense Technical Service). One of them was marked “NR.1 FLIGHT TEST”. Also from the WTD-61 arrived 98+98 which is the only Dornier UH-1D MAT (MAT = Multi Equipment Carrier). 98+98 (before it was 72+38). A second UH-1D (98+89) is also in service by WTD-61.
From Bueckeburg arrived one of the last delivered NHI NH90TTH. The NH90 should replace the old UH-1D, but technical problems delayed the program again and again. In the mean time we will see, and especially hear, the UH-1D over Germany and central Europe skies for a longer period.
Some oldies were also on the base: like a perfectly restored Bell 47G, an Alouette II, Europe’s last airworthy Sikorsky S-58C, but they did not participate in the flying display. What a pity. Three Sikorsky CH-53’s were at the base. Two of them, one G and one GS version, took part in the flying display, which was very impressive. The Tiger and NH90 took part in the flying display as solo displays. The Czech Air Force brought a Mil Mi-171Sh and Mil Mi-35V to Germany, and the Swiss Air Force was there with the Puma display team.
After lunch, the rehearsal began, under mostly sunny skies and sometimes with a little bit of haze.
The roar of all the helicopter engines with their blades turning while warming up, was quite an event. After the warm up, they took to the sky in a large formation. In the front, several of the Hueys, followed by several BO-105’s, Austrian Air Force AB 212, Swiss Air Force Eurocopter AS.332M-1Super Puma, Eurocopter EC-135T1, Austrian Air Force Sikorsky S70-A42 Black Hawk, and the last were the two German Sikorsky CH-53’s. What a sight, and the noise of all these different helis, WOW!
The German Hueys, the Austrian Air Force Blackhawk and AB 212, the Swiss Air Force Super Puma and BO-105’s demonstrated an airborne operation. The CH-53’s brought trucks and some other heavy equipment to the “battlefield.” In between was a Huey solo display. The pilot flew his Huey on the edge.
Then a SAR, (Search and Rescue), demo began with a mock battle injury. The SAR helicopter approached the battlefield to take the insured soldier away. Meanwhile, a BO-105 secured the sky and the ground. Several CH-53’s approached and took the trucks and jeeps away from the battlefield, while the Blackhawk, Hueys, and Super Puma transported all soldiers away from the field. After the SAR, several solo displays were performed by the BO-105, NH90, Huey, and the Swiss Super Puma that was the best among them.
A fire fighting demonstration was next by five different helicopters working in cohesion. First was the Huey, AB-212 , Blackhawk, Super Puma and the last one was the CH-53 with a 5 ton water tank.
This was followed by one of the rare German Tiger’s. The in flight display was superior to the one we had reported on earlier this year by the French Tiger in Cambrai. The last display was a Huey and a CH-53 working together, demonstrating their pilot’s high skills with cargo lifts of various trucks and 4X4s.
The flying display was nearly a 3 hour nonstop show of flying action. For the rest of the day, we spent time to take static images and speak with the crews.
Open to the Public day, Sunday 18th
On the way to the base early in the morning, the rain started. Unfortunately, we missed the arrival of several US Army helicopters; Chinook CH-47F, AH-64A Apache and the UH-60A Blackhawk, as they arrived earlier that morning. The rain became heavier at times in the morning and the wind picked up too. We and the spectators sought shelter from the rain in the hangers, and watched the flying display that continued despite the rain. For the well trained professional helicopter pilots, the weather conditions did not cause any issues as the entire program was executed as planned. Our Compliments and our Thank You are extended to all the pilots and Event Personnel from Air Shows Review.
Overall it was a weekend, now filled with great memories, especially from the Spotter’s day. We saw a great spectrum of aircraft and the collaboration of professionally trained pilots and crews. The perfect harmony in their tasks, and cooperation between various Air Forces, made the interaction of all areas to be faultless and highly successful . It was Great to see these professionals at work.
Some of the participants were:
  • Dornier UH-1D Iroquois
  • MBB BO-105 (different Versions)
  • Kaman Seasprite SH-2G
  • Boeing CH-47F
  • Sikorsky Blackhawk UH-60A and S-70A-42
  • Sikorsky S-58C (ex Belgian Air Force B15 / Last flyable S-58 in Europe)
  • Aerospatile SE.318C Allouette II
  • Eurocopter AS.665 Tiger UHT
  • Sikorsky CH-53G and GS
  • Mil Mi-35 Hind
  • Mil Mi-171Sh
  • Boeing AH-64A Apache
  • Bell OH-58B Kiowa
  • Lockheed Hercules
  • and too many others to list...
Rating: 9.9 out of 10
Austrian Air Force Bell OH-58B
Kaman Seasprite SH-2G
Eurocopter AS.665 Tiger UHT
Czech Mil Mi-35

Report co-written by Laszlo Nyary and Wolfgang Jarisch with photography by Wolfgang Jarisch for AIRSHOWSREVIEW LLC

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