Laagin' it in Germany
Laage Open Day, 25 August.
Stefan Niehaus reports on Germany's Laage-est (sorry) airshow of 2001.
Laage Airfield, situated some 25 km south-east of Rostock, has a civil and a military part. Next to the civil terminal there is a spotters corner, placed on a hill. On Friday 24 August we arrived at Laage the day before the Open Day and photographed some of the arriving aircraft - unfortunately not all aircraft taxied past the spotters hill, but those that did could be nicely photographed with a 80-200mm lens.
A large number of spotters/photographers were present, many spending the morning photographing the incoming and practising aircraft. Later in the afternoon JG 73 had organised a photo call for photographers only. Both specially painted aircraft - F-4F 38+31 and MiG-29 29+20 - were displayed, as well as Eurofighter DA1 98+29. Also you were allowed to walk through the static park that contained many interesting items - but it was a long walk! Unfortunately all the static aircraft were already behind barriers so acceptable photos were nearly impossible.
More and more foreign visitors make occasional visits to Germany. The B-1B from 77 BS, Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota was undoubtedly a star among the static exhibition. No less interesting were two F-15A/Bs of 123 FS based at Portland, Oregon. Further visitors included a F-16D (23 FS SP/91-0474), F-16C (23 FS SP/91-0403), KC-135R (22ARG 62-3541), Mirage 2000D (EC1/3 68/3-JT), two TF-104s (20GR 4-23/MM54226 & 4-32/MM54237), E-3A (NAEWF LX-N90442), F-16AM (312 SQN J-874), F-16BM (322 SQN J-064) and most types currently in German Air Force service. All in all more than 300 crews had to be lodged.
The highlight of the flying display was the simulated interception of two MiG-29s. Two further aircraft of the same type performed a quick reaction alert, climbing up to 12,000 metres and overshooting the runway in formation after a "successful interception". Sadly for most of the day the sun was opposite the crowd line, but overall JG 73 did a good job organising the open day. From the park-and-ride system to snack-bars everything was carefully planned, about 150,000 people enjoying great weather and a great show. The interest among the German public certainly exists for airshows - let's hope for more!