2016 is the year that the Swedish Air Force celebrates its 90th anniversary. The main event of the celebrations was an Open House with international airshow (#Flygdarna) on the last weekend of August at Malmen Air Base near Linköping. Linköping is the cradle of Swedish aviation. It is here that the first flying school was based and it is the home of Saab Aerospace & Defense. About 1/3 of the working population is employed in aerospace. The military base Malmen houses a number of units that are not often seen outside their home country and it is also home of the Central Air Force Museum. Plenty reasons to make a tour to Sweden. Therefore 13 travellers met up at the well-known meeting point at Schiphol Plaza in the morning of Thursday 25 August for their flight to Stockhol-Arlanda. After landing and collection of the luggage we took the shuttle to the rental car center. From the bus we spotted two C-32As on one of the platforms. Mr. Joe Biden and his team were in Stockholm for negotiations. After picking up our two vans, the first stop was to add these two birds to our collections. After this we joined the heavy traffic in Stockholm and made our way to our hotel in Norrköping, home for the next few nights.
Friday morning 26 August we hit the road early direction Malmen. Along the E4 exits near Linköping there are a number of Saab aircraft preserved, which could be added to the logs rather early. Upon arrival at Malmen Air Base we first made an exploratory round of the base and logged already quite a number of aircraft. Surprising to most of us was the presence of a Hungarian An-26 and a Canadian C-130J. At the south of the base in an area called Pilgarden, the Swedish authorities had defined an area in the ‘airshow restricted zone’ form where accredited media and spotters were allowed to photograph the rehearsals and show. This area proved to be a hill overlooking the beginning of runway 01. Quite an awesome location. Shortly after setting ourselves up the first aircraft movements started including the arrival of the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight with their Sk-60, J-29 Tunnan, Sk-35 Draken and the mighty AJS-37 Viggen The following hours many show rehearsals were flown mixed up with arrivals for the static show. Impressive was the low level approach of 2 Hkp-15s plus 8 Hkp-16 Blackhawks for an airpower ‘role’ demo. At 15.00 hours, the flying activity tapered off and also the sun had turned to backlight, so we moved to the north side of the field to visit the impressive museum. Around 5 o’clock the museum closed the doors for the day and we drove back to our hotel looking back at a warm, sunny and fruitful day!
The Saturday morning gave us a choice. Either go on base in the public area or once more to the Pilgarden hill south of the main display line, with the remark that on Sunday we would definitely start at the public side. A few chose to enjoy the static show but most of us boarded an air force shuttlebus to the south side of the base. The flying display was opened by a solo Gripen followed by a variety of solo acts and formation flying of historic aircraft, helicopters and ‘modern’ fighters including the ever impressive Draken and Viggen of the Historic Flight and a very spirited display by a Finnish Hornet. The last half hour of the flying program consisted of formation flying with 4 Gripens followed by an aerial refuelling demo with a C-130. The closing act was a 5-ship formation flight of historic Saab aircraft (Tunnan, Sk-60, Draken, Viggen and Gripen). Around 15:30 the flying ended and we made our way back to our two vans. Because it was relatively early, we decided to try our luck at the civil airport of Linköping. This is where Saab has its factories with a beautiful Draken displayed on the parking lot. On the east side of the field we found the flying club with a number of ex-military machines on the platforms. The adjacent fire dump held remains of a Draken and a piece of a Viggen-hull amongst a few civil aircraft hulls. After this expedition we toured back to our hotel. The end of again a very good day!
The next day, Sunday 28 August, we had to get up early in order to be at one of the west-gates of Malmen Air Base no later than 7 o’clock. The airshow organizers had arranged a photo hour of the static show area well before personnel or visitors would flock the platforms. Exactly at 7 o’clock we were greeted and set free on to the static areas. Nice touch in the static show was the addition of more modern museum storage aircraft and instructional airframes displayed in a more or less operational setting. This included for example a Tp-86, a beautiful grey Viggen, a J-29 Tunnan in UN colors, a J-32 Lansen, an Hkp-10 Superpuma and an Hkp-9. The flying program for the Sunday would be almost identical to Saturdays’ proceedings so we knew more or less what to do and where to be. From the on-base public accessible area especially the displaying helicopters and propellor-driven aircraft could be photographed very well. Unfortunately, after 2 days of glorious sunshine, today was overcast with occasional rain. Around half 4 all of us had bagged everything and we said goodbye to Malmen.
On the Monday morning (29 August), it was time to pack up again for the journey home. Since our flight did not depart from Arlanda until later in the afternoon, we had a few hours to entertain ourselves. Unfortunately, today was marred by rain and very low clouds. Around 8 o’clock we had our vans loaded and set off direction Norrköping airport. Here there was no activity but as a big surpise an Il-76 was standing in front of the terminal. A nice addition to the logs. A second stop was made at Skavsta airport. This is Stockholm’s low-cost airport and houses a coastguard unit and also an aviation museum. The compact but very interesting F11 museum is only open on Wednesdays and Sundays but after politely asking, we were granted access. After scoring plenty souvenirs it was back on the road next stop Bromma. Apart from domestic commuters and lots of rain, not much going here so we quickly continued on to Arlanda to drop off the rental vans and check in for our flight back to the Netherlands. After arrival at Schiphol and collection of our luggage, we said goodbye. A very fruitful trip had ended. A big thank you to the hospitality of the Swedish Air Force and in particular to Major Hågskold and his team for the excellent facilities provided. We all look forward to go back to future Swedish open days!