As has now become custom the Hellenic Air Force kept its annual appointment and opened its doors for the general public, this annual event has become a must-go for many aircraft spotters from all over the World. The main attraction comes from the fact that the Hellenic Air Force still has in its ranks a good number of exotic types like the T-2 Buckeye, the F-4 Phantom II and the Bombardier Canadair CL-215, all of which still fly in very limited numbers and are very rarely spotted outside of Greece.
Our first base visit took us west to Araxos, as one enters the base one can’t but give homage to two types previously based at Araxos, the F-104 Starfighter and the A-7 Corsair of which two perfectly restored examples could be seen parked alongside their successor, namely the F-16 Falcon. Till a few years, back Araxos was the only base in Greece and by extension in the World for the rugged A-7 Corsair, unfortunately, these were retired in favour of more modern and versatile F-16s.
Our second base visit took us some fifty kilometres further west to the F-4 base of Andravida, on the base, one could see four examples of this majestic bird. Greece is one of the ever-dwindling countries still flying the Phantom.
The following day having driven back to Athens we visited the Air Force base at Tatoi which is home to the Hellenic Air Force training academy and the Hellenic Air Force Museum. At the Museum one can find almost every past type the Hellenic Air Force had in its inventory, ranging from a newly added airworthy Supermarine Spitfire to the Grumman Albatross flying boat and a Nord Atlas. The only Air Force operational types present on the base are what is left of the Cessna 172s Masceranos and their replacements the Italian built Tecnam P-92s.
After a short drive from Tatoi, we arrived at the gates of Elefsina, one of the main bases in the country, home to the Transport wing equipped with Lockheed C-130s Hercules and Alenia C-27s Spartan, the VIP wing equipped with Gulfstream V and Embraer ERJ-135 aircraft and many other types belonging to different units and serving different purposes ranging from Early Warning and Surveillance to Fire fighting. After a short drive through the airbase we arrived to the display park, in which one could see a C-27, a Search and Rescue Aerospatiale Puma and AB-205, a Medavac Beech 350, a PZL Dromader and last but not least a Bombardier Canadair CL-215.
The Hellenic Air Force is the only Air Force in Europe still operating this exotic and old flying boat, Built-in Canada by Canadair, later Bombardier Canadair the CL-215 is the older brother to the more modern turboprop version the CL-415, During its long years of operation, the CL-215 has proved its worth in many countries around the Word doing what it does best, fighting forest fires. That brings to a close our Hellenic Air Force base tour for 2021 and as was the case in previous years I would like to thank the Hellenic Air Force for the organization of this event.
Cypriot Air Force Open Base 2021
Following an absence of two years, The Cypriot Air Force Command opened the gates of the Sole base in 2021 for the general Public in the occasion of the Feast of Archangel Michael Patron Saint. Andreas Papandreou Air Base, located at Paphos International Airport in the West of the Country hosts three Separate Squadrons. Two separate Squadrons operate a mix of flying helicopters, whilst the 470 MMEA operate Aerostar UAV Drones. Eleven Russian Built Mil-Mi-35P are operated by the 450ME Squadron. Sadly one of the original batch of twelve has crashed but luckily with no fatalities. Three Leonardo AW-139 Helicopters operate the Search and Rescue role since mid-2011.
In 1987, The Air Force Command Aviation Unit started taking shape with the introduction of the first helicopters. Three Light Bell 206, four ytility Aérospatiale Gazelles and two intermediate trainers Pilatus PC-9 were all introduced. A single Britten Norman Islander used for transport and utility purposes was introduced but its faith is unknown. Sadly in September 10th, 2005 one of the PC-9`s crashed killing both air crew.
Today, The Cypriot Air Force Command is mainly involved with crew winching training, assault demonstration at the Firing Range with both ground and aerial crews deployed and mostly inter operability with other respective Air Forces, such as Exercise Medusa 2020 which was a joint military training exercise held together with the Greeks, Egyptians and French forces that was held in Cyprus’s territorial Waters