In 2018 4Aviation travelled to Finland for the first time. We chose the annual career days of the Finnish Air Force to explore the land of a thousand lakes.
For the career days, a number of operational air force bases are opened to the public. The setup is small and there is only access to smaller parts of the bases. The operational flying makes it a worthwhile experience. The weather was very cooperative as well!
For this report also photos were used from Jan Dijkstra, Johan Moerman, Arthur Payne, Stéphane Pichard and Werner de Rooij.
A group of six participants came together for this first tour to Finland. Five of them gathered at Schiphol Airport on Monday 14 May for their Finnair evening flight to Helsinki-Vantaa. Once there, the sixth participant joined the group and the group arrived at the hotel for the first night very late in the evening.
15 May 2018
The visits started on Tuesday (May 15) at Tampere-Pirkkala. Here you will find a large variety of aircraft types because the test unit of the Finnish Air Force is based here next to the transport unit. Because normal operational flights are flown during the career days, you will also see the operational aircraft passing by besides the aircraft that are presented on the static display. In addition, at Tampere-Pirkkala the sun will be in the right position all day long. And that sun was shining all day. Tampere was opened to the public at 12:00 and closed at 7:00 PM. By that time it is still very light and even when leaving the field, operational flying continued.
From Tampere it was still quite a distance to Kuopio-Rissala, but the overnight stay was planned about halfway. We stayed overnight in 3 holiday homes, with an indoor sauna. After a day in the hot sun, that was a very welcome surprise!
16 May 2018
The overnight stay halfway offered two advantages on Wednesday 16 May. The first advantage was that we now had the opportunity to visit the museum on Tikkakoski which was opened earlier to the participants of the tour on request. This is a great museum with a unique collection and guides with a passion for military aviation. They were very willing to provide an explanation if desired. In this museum you can find one of the last original Brewster Buffalo B.239. The second advantage was that the trip could be divided into two parts because Kuopio opened only at noon. This gave the opportunity to drive the final part in the morning, with enough time for a visit to the museum.
On Kuopio-Rissala the Karjalan Lennosto Wing HävLLv 31 is based with Hornets. Again during the day there are operational flights and because you are close to the taxi track and the runway, there are also more than excellent photographic opportunities here. By the end of the show all aircraft and helicopters that have been shown as static displays will leave and give a nice opportunity for photography. Here, too, you stand with the sun in your back all day long. And here too, that sun was shining brightly!
From Kuopio it was about a three to four hours’ drive to Utti, but this can also be divided into two parts by halfway through the night. We did that in Varkaus, where some kind of elderly karaoke seemed to take place in the hotel. We therefore decided to get the food and the beer somewhere else.
17 May 2018
Utti was on the agenda for Thursday (May 17). Here the base opened the gates at 10.00 am and there was an extensive static of both operational and instructional airframe aircraft of the technical school. A foreign visitor in the form of a Swedish Air Force Blackhawk was also presented here. The displays took place until 14:00 and the airport was closed again after that. That gave us the opportunity to travel back to Helsinki to catch our flight to Rovaniemi. Because we had some time left it also gave the opportunity to visit the Helsinki-Vantaa museum. Here too there is a nice collection of aircraft and it gives a nice impression of the history of the Finnish Air Force. Our flight left at 20:55 and by 22:00 we had landed at Rovaniemi on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
18 May 2018
The last visit took place on Rovaniemi on Friday 18 May. This airport is home to the Lapin Lennosto HävLLv 11 Wing. The field opened at 10:00 and was open until 19:00. Unfortunately, unlike all other fields, there were no operational missions being flown. Rovaniemi is also home to part of the Finnish border guards and all types were shown here on the static and flying display. At the beginning of the day you have some back light, but the sun moves in a better position and by 2 PM the sun is in a favorable for photography. On all days the event ended with a performance of the Midnight Hawks.
19 May 2018
After another night at the Arctic Circle we went home on Saturday 19 May. First a flight Rovaniemi-Helsinki, where we say goodbye to our sixth participant, followed by a flight to Amsterdam. In hindsight, a nice tour that, including the visit to the two largest museums, presents a nice overview of the Finnish Air Force. Numbers are modest, but the possibilities for photography are above average. Moreover, during our visit we were treated to almost fulltime sunshine.