For some years now, I had wanted to go to the Athens Flying Week airshow. But, Covid hit and then things there went similar to other such events all over the world. So, in 2022, this was the first time they were back up and running again at full strength so I made plans to spend the day there – and it was worth it!
Photo Review of the Athens Flying Week 2022 Airshow
Link: Athens Flying Week 2022
First, why the Athens Flying Week airshow? Well, I was in Greece so that’s a start! But, also, while I have been to many airshows in the US, there is something special about being at a foreign airshow. One of those things is being able to enjoy a different country’s national pride in their arial defense. Another thing is seeing different air displays from countries that you may not see in the US (like the Royal Saudi Air Force demo). But, one more thing is that it is something cool to see US aircraft that have been purchased by other countries, flying with those different flags but still knowing that they are US planes. 🙂
The Athens Flying Week airshow takes place at Tanagra Air Base about 1 hour from the Athens International Airport. It is accessible via a great highway, though there are a couple of toll booths each way.
So, if you like photos of planes, buckle up because I have a bunch! This was the first airshow I photographed so I still have a lot of things to learn with some of this stuff. Also, I shot a bunch of the planes in high speed mode which meant 20 frames per second. That is great for getting at least some of the shots in focus and tight but also means going through thousands of photographs after the event! 🙂 But, I was very pleased with how my Canon locked on to a lot of these airplanes when using its vehicle autofocus mode.
The show started with three Hellenic Skydrivers dropping in with both the flags of Greece and of the Athens Flying Week.
This was followed by a glider display by Luca Bertossio and the “Silver Chicken” display, also by an Italian team.
After this came the helicopter demos, including a tactical demo of dropping in special forces, a mock battle, and then extracting them.
Second Displays – The Hellenic Air Force and Show of Force
I have to say, I am admittedly more of an airplane fan than a helicopter fan (though I do like them as well!) so was pretty excited to see several fighter jets taking to the air. The great part that, unlike at many airshows, since this was at a military base, most of the fighter jets took off from here and landed here. That meant that there were great opportunities to see them on the ground as well as in the air.
Greece has recently acquired a large number of the French-made Rafale jets and these were on display and in the sky as well. The Hellenic Air Force demoed it as well as the French Air Force displaying it later in the show with their special demo version.
They also had a T-6 Daedalus demo team at the air show that did an amazing job. Here is a shot of their plane.
It is hard, at least for me, to get solid shots of a plane like this. First, it is very small! Second, you want to keep your shutter speed slow enough so that you can capture the blur of the propellor, which means having to pan very closely so that you can keep the plane sharp. I took a ton of photos of this plane but did not get as many keepers as I had hoped for!
Third Displays – International Teams
This is the part of the airshow that you may not often see if you only visit US airshows! There were teams from the Royal Jordanian Air Force, the Swiss Air Force, the Polish Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force, the French Air Force, and a bit more from the Hellenic (Greek) Air Force.
One of the cool things had to do with the aerobatic teams from both the Royal Jordanian Air Force and the Polish Air Force. These were actual military pilots with thousands of flight hours, not demo teams only. So, these were fighter pilots who also flew in these demo teams.
Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the Orlik Aerobatic Team from the Polish Air Force, thanks to some incredibly long lines (more on this at the bottom!).
First up and with more photos than anything else – the Royal Jordanian Falcons! These guys were amazing! Again, it is hard to capture these kinds of aircraft, especially when you don’t know what their maneuvers will be and you are trying to keep a slow shutter speed for the propellors. These were the best shots I got of them.
The Royal Jordanian Falcons
The Royal Jordanian Falcons are an aerobatic team that uses Walter Extra 300Ls aircraft. They fly 4 during shows and, like I mentioned, they are flown by top Royal Jordanian Air Force pilots. The team was established back in 1976 by the orders of King Hussein. Fun fact – I actually talked with King Hussein a number of years ago. He was an amateur radio operator, as am I, and I managed to talk to him for a couple of minutes when he was on the radio!
So, here we go!
More International Teams
Next up was the Swiss Air Force with their F-18 Hornet demo
This was followed by the Royal Saudi Air Force with their F-15. I have a whole post of those here but here are a couple of photos from it.
Following the Royal Saudi Air Force was a demo by the Zeus Demo team from the Hellenic Air Force. Previously, or maybe with a different aircraft, this f-16 had an incredible Greek/Zeus paint job. This was a more tactical look but it was still a great demo.
Following the Zeus demo was a demo by the Spitfire before it joined with the Rafael and an Aegean Airbus A320 NEO with their new-ish paint scheme for a cool flyby together.
The last demo of the international teams was the French Air Force with their Rafale solo display.
Review of the Athens Flying Week Airshow
So, how was the show overall? It was great! There were a number of ticket options available from just entry to special grandstand seating for airplane spotting at the highest level. I purchased one of these tickets during their sale as it also came with VIP parking so I didn’t need to deal with the shuttles or buses.
I also received a press pass which gave me access to another tent for similar close-up observation. However, all of these positions were in the same line with everyone else so it was not something that gave me any closer angles. I did get a better parking spot, though. 🙂
However, that turned out to be more of a curse than a blessing when departing! It took me about 45 minutes to go 100 meters, thanks to everyone leaving at once and there being a single access road through the air base to the exit. That was a bad part.
As for concessions, I am used to expensive food and drinks at these airshows! However, Greece has a cap on the pricing of 500ml water bottles which even applies at these venues! That means you can buy a 500ml bottle of water for just 50 cents! But, they should have definitely had water areas to buy these rather than selling these in the two food tents with everything else. And, by everything else, I mean ice cream, souvlaki, beefteki, hot dogs, and more!
But, with temperatures over 100 degrees, it meant hundreds of people crowding in lines and competing for the attention of the cashiers, even just to buy water while many others wanted to buy food. They couldn’t even keep it cold because of how many were being sold!
Overall, the show itself was fantastic with a great view of planes, both in the air and on the ground. If you are in Greece in September around this time, it is worth checking it out!
I didn’t include many photos from the ground as well of the static aircraft, which were also great. I may add those later.