The Czech International Air Fest 1993

The Czech International Air Fest (CIAF) nowadays is – after the NATO-days at Ostrava – the second largest yearly air show in the Czech Republic. We were present at the first edition which was held on 17 July 1993 at Hradec Králové airbase.

Hradec Králové airbase
The history of Hradec Králové goes back more than 100 years, when Professor Jakub Hron tested balloon flying at the airstrip. In 1926, the Masaryk Aviation League was founded here, an organization that trained pilots for the government. The airport gained a paved runway during the German occupation in WWII, when the airport was used for Luftwaffe training. After WWII numerous aircraft considered Hradec as their home base. What started with Spitfires, and later Lavochkin La-7s, changed to MiG-15s in the Cold War and ended with SU-22s and MiG-21s. On 1 January 1993, Czechoslovakia split up in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Soon thereafter Hradec Králové airbase was closed. In March 1993 the 16 stationed SU-22s and the 20 MiG-21s left for their new home bases.

The 1993 edition
Only a few months after the departure of SU-22s and MiG-21s, the deserted airbase was an ideal spot for a large event like the CIAF. The first CIAF was indeed a large event with not only a huge number of Czech Air Force aircraft, but also with numerous visitors from Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and even the United States. USAF send two Spangdahlem based A-10s to Hradec. During the airshow the spectators were treated to no less than four demo teams: Biele Albatrosy, Frecce Tricolori, The Grasshoppers and Patrouille de France. Besides the teams, there were also lots of solo performances from numerous aircraft and helicopters.