THREE COAST AVIATION
Athens Flying Week
Athens Flying Week takes place at Tanagra Air Base, located about an hour north of Athens. The show moved to Tanagra from Tatoi Air Base in 2016 to include a static display. The base is home to mulitple Mirage 2000 squadrons and the future home of the newly acquired Rafale.
The show is oriented along Runway 10/28 with guests facing north, providing excellent lighting conditions. Visitors have very close proximity to the taxiway, but the runway is a little distant and heat haze can unfortunately ruin some images of aircraft arriving and departing. While the Sunday show begins at noon, the Saturday show starts mid-afternoon and runs almost until sunset resulting in terrific golden lighting conditions.
I have so many wonderful things to say about this event. The high quality of both the static and flying displays, the perfect lighting conditions, especially Saturday evening, the ease of arriving and departing the grounds, the line of squadron booths selling all sorts of collectibles, and just the general easy-going atmosphere of the entire event. I am very glad I made the decision to attend and hope to return regularly.
The static displays are separated in two, with the Hellenic Armed Forces helicopters on the west ramp and a variety of fighters and trainers from multiple nations parked to the east. There were many impressive aircraft but my favourites were the specially painted Saudi F-15 and Tornado and the newly painted F-4E Phantom.
Both shows followed a similar program, featuring multiple Hellenic displays followed by international performances. Early highlights included a water drop by a CL-415GR and a 4-ship air force flyby lead by a pair of F-4Es. The specially painted Danish F-16 and French Rafale looked spectacular and flew high energy displays, always remaining in front of the crowd. The American F-15 Eagles didn't have a set routine so they just flew low and fast, banking sharply away in burner which looked especially impressive on Saturday with the evening sun reflecting off the bottom of the jets. Both display teams, the Patrouille de France and the Saudi Hawks, were a treat to see, but the 'Greek Spitfire' may have been the most impressive aircraft at AFW, having completed its restoration in England and returned to the Greek skies for the first time since 1953.
For a more detailed review of Athens Flying Week 2021 please enjoy my article at Checksix - the military aviation online magazine.