...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Let the reminiscing begin!

There are too many stories to tell about mom and dad's visit that I would probably have blog material for months to come. I think a good strategy might be to save some for those days when I can't blog of anything, at least if they're not somewhat of färskvara, a "perishable good," metaphorically speaking: that is, an event that'll become irrelevant to talk about about a few week's time.

Well, this story is at least just a few days old, from a certain point of view. From another, the story is exactly a hundred years old.

The story of a hundred years begins, obviously, in 1910. The man in the picture, Carl Cederström, became Sweden's first aviator. Eventually, he established a flight school in Malmen, located in Linköping. 1910 also marked Sweden's first airshow (in Stockholm), and in the same year, a plane was manufactured in Sweden for the first time (in Skåne).

A lot has happened in Swedish aviation history those hundred years. Throughout the cold war, with Sweden as a neutral country that had to defend itself, SAAB (based in Linköping) designed and produced a number of military planes. SAAB's newest military plane, the multirole JAS Gripen (Griffin) is still in use by the Swedish, Czech, Hungarian and South African air force.

One wishing to see these planes can just go to the Air Force Museum which is located, aptly, in Malmen where the story of Swedish aviation all begins. The museum, which I wrote about in 2008, has recently been renovated and expanded.

An even better alternative is to catch an airshow and see these planes in action – in their element. And where's a better place to see this than in the home of Carl Cederström's old flight school, and the home of SAAB?

Anyway, that's what we did with mom and dad on their last weekend here last July 13.

We mostly watched the first part of the airshow, when helicopters and smaller planes were on demonstration. The big planes and the other SAABs came later in the afternoon, so we missed that. We did see the JAS Gripen though (below). It made a thundering noise as it swept in circles and waves on top of our heads, before disappearing into the wild blue yonder!

I must say that the most theatrical part of the airshow has been provided not by Swedes, but by Frenchmen. (In fairness, the the Swedes tried to match the theatrics with a mock battle involving army trucks, tanks, an unmanned reconnaissance plane and the JAS Gripen. The Gripen "rockets" were nothing more than smoky firecrackers, though). The French group, a 7-man stunt team called Breitling Jet Team, performed dangerous-looking maneuvers to the tune of lively, ala-Top Gun score and a narration by a Frenchman. (The link above takes you to their official site. More about them in Wiki here).

Super camera zoom!

Milliseconds before a cross-over

All of Breitling Jet Team's symmetric plane formations and stunts had names (such as "Blackbird", etc). The best stunt – in the dangerousness scale, as it seemed to me as a spectator – also wins the best name: PacMan! Five planes going in one direction spread out and "eat" up two others going straight at them. Picture of the PacMan here, to make up for my confusing description. If words alone got you curious, there's also a YouTube clip of the plane formations, from someone who was also in Malmen. It's a joy to look at, and the formation transitions are so smooth, the team make the planes look as graceful as birds. Someone else also managed to get a video of the PacMan stunt.

A day to remember!

Just before the airshow began and before loads of people flocked to the airfield, there were also displays of different kinds in Malmen. Walking around there was enjoyable in itself too, I think. I do think mom and dad had a blast! (No pun intended there about the following picture:)

Small lady with a big gun. Mom insisted that the flag should be visible in the picture. Man, was she agile in climbing that truck!

Mom and dad in a helicopter. Dad's shy to pose, but once he was in the helicopter, he seemed alright with the idea!

Marcus also had fun at the medics' demonstration, where he experienced being strapped to a vacuum mat. :-)

And here's yours truly, a chick on a truck:

As I said: A day to remember!


Blogger Leplume said...

What a great day! And really great photos too!

5:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Haha, you were also there? I would have said hello :) Nice update!

10:41 AM


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