Rene Kurzenberg reports from last year's 2006 Midnight Sun Airshow at Kauhava, Finland in anticipation of this year's event
Are you tired of getting up in the middle of the night to be at an airshow on time to catch all the action and get a good photo position at the fence? Well, then you should consider visiting the Midnight Sun Airshow in Kauhava, Finland. It's no problem to stay in bed 'till noon, as the event doesn't start before 17:00!
The Finnish Air Force (Ilmavoimat) is one of the oldest air forces of the world and for over forty-five years the airshow in Kauhava has taken place on the first Friday after Midsummer, this being 23 June in 2006. Due to limited parking space the static display is quite small and dominated by aircraft of the Finnish Forces - F-18C Hornet, L-70 Vinka, MD-500, and Hawk, as well as some types used in the past like the MiG-21bis and Fouga Magister.
You think I made a mistake with the designation of the Hornet? Nope. As the Hornets are used exclusively for air defence, the 'A' for attack has been removed from the designation. The F-18 has been in service with the Ilmavoimat for over ten years, the first Finnish Hornet landing in Finland on 11 November 1995. It replaced the MiG-21bis and Draken, and is supposed to form the backbone of the Air Force for at least thirty years. It is also planned to build a Rapid Reaction Force with four F-18s from 2010, which will be ready to be deployed as part of a multinational force wherever and whenever.
The flying display doesn't start before 21:00 and the Finnish Air Force makes a major contribution with the Hawk and the Hornet. The stars of the airshow are the Midnight Hawks, who earned their name as being the display team with the most displays around midnight. Besides the Midnight Hawks there is always a display team from outside Finland - for 2006 it was the Red Arrows, just the second time his team attended a Finnish airshow and their first display shortly before midnight.
A civilian-registered Magister took to the air and it is good to know that this aircraft will still be around when the Belgian Air Force retires its Magister in mid-2007. Also in the flying programme were the F-16AM from the Royal Netherlands Air Force and a MiG-29 Fulcrum from the Polish Air Force.
The show was also an opportunity to say goodbye to the MD-80 of Finnair with some round-trips being offered. A couple of days later the type was removed from the inventory of the fleet and it remains to see if and with what type the airline will visit the show in 2007.
Compared with other events in Europe, the airshow at Kauhava is small, but special in the time it takes place. The resulting lighting conditions provide a visual experience - it's hard to photograph, but with warm light rich colours and afterburners are shown to best effect. And, it's not just an airshow, it's more like a festival with live music and joy rides to celebrate Midsummer. You still don't know if you should go there? The F-16 Solo Display Team will be there again and hopefully repeat their bonfire flight and light the sky with a big load of flares! The Patrouille de France is also supposed to attend - so far the organising team have always managed to attract interesting solo and team displays for the show.