The 20th of August is a national holiday in Hungary. That day was honoured with an air and water parade above and on the Danube in downtown Budapest in the communist era. This institution faded away after 1990, only to come back in a simple manner a few years later. The real change came when beverage maker Redbull started to organise its "RedBull Air Race" event at the same spot and same time. Also, the national army officer commencement celebrations include a parade of the air force over Hősök tere (Heroes' Square) since 2008, so that day is very intensive over the city.
Now, on August 20 everything is full of tourists, so it's easier to take photos during the previous day, when the air force does a "reherasal", and the RedBull Air Race has its qualifying rounds, accompanied by guest performers like the Flying Bulls and Breitling Jet Team. In 2009, I also went to Budaörs airfield that day to see some general aviation - and a DC-3/C-47 from France.
The actual officer commencement takes places at Hősök tere, but the planes taking part on the parade make a large loop over the city, so one can make photos from elsewhere, too. This year I only got to Március 15. tér because I failed to get up early in the morning :)
The bulk of the salutation parade was two An-26 freighters, one accompanied by two L-139ZO, the other by two MiG-29 (a two-seater and a single-seater).
Last year the rehearsal consisted of two round trips over the city, so during the first pass I just tried to find a good angle, without working too much on the settings of the camera. As life goes, there was no second round this year, so my shot of the three Gripens (left) is quite far from perfect. There were also helicopters, like the Mi-24 to the right.
A bit frustrated, I took tram 41 on the other side of the river, and went to Budaörs airfield.
Although the RedBull Air Race base is located at Tököl airport, and Budapest's main general aviation terminal is Ferihegy, this old grass airstrip still receives a decent ammount of traffic during touristically important days.
Most of the visitors came from abroad.
To the left: I wonder why this (Soviet-designed - Romanian-built - Hungarian-owned) Yak-52 has been "disguised" as an American navy trainer :) To the right: a Robin DR500 - I've never seen this type before.
Budaörs was once home to dozens of An-2 biplanes, now there's less of them every year. This one with the broken wing-tip might be the next to go? To the right: the main reason for me to come out here was that I've heard about the arrival of a very special guest.
Indeed it was special: a DC-3, or more precisely a C-47 from France. From one side it's a KLM machine called F-AZTE, from the other an Air France airliner with the registration F-BBBE. Odd, but wonderful :)
The Redbull air circus guys also brought a Dakota with them, from Switzerland. On August 20 the two "Dakota" flew information with the Hungarian Li-2 over the Danube.
I must admit, I am uneasy about this air circus right in the heart of the city. On the other hand, it looks great.
To the left: the whole programme was recorded with a special camera from this MBB Bo-105. It was hovering for quarter hours, then it was racing up and down along the river, parellel to the contestants. To the right: the Czech formation Flying Bulls rehearsed its usual display with four Zlin 50s.
One of the most interesting performance was of another Bo-105. It was literally aerobatics, with loops and rolls - these photos are not rotated, they depict actual positions of the helicopter :)
During the afternoon I climbed up to the Castle Hill. From here the display rehearsals and qualifying rounds were even more impressive. The most unbelievable ten minutes belonged to the Breitling Jet Team of France, flying Czech L-39 jet trainers.
They were very precise and very tight...... and were most of the times lower than I was standing on the hill. Just look at these pictures! Wonderful! And at the same time, I don't understand how they were able to get a permission for this above this densely populated area...