BITOLA AIRSHOW – Macedonia 2010

The sole airshow organized on the territory of the Republic of Macedonia during the year 2010 took place on 18 and 19 September 2010 at the outskirts of Bitola, the second largest city in Macedonia, located in southwest of that Balkan country, some 180km from its capital Skopje and only 15km away from the border with Greece.
Being officially named “The 3rd International Air Show” the Bitola airshow was organized by the local Aero Club “Mirko Todorovski” and was executed at Logovardi sport and agricultural airport located some 8km east of Bitola downtown.
Despite its official name, the airshow was predominantly a Macedonian aviation airshow with the term “international” being hardly deserved thanks to the participation of only one non-Macedonian aircraft – an Italian Tecnam P92 Echo light sport aircraft, registered I-5688, that took-off from Agoti, near Naples, and after a total flight time of 3,5 hours arrived to Logovardi airport flying on that way over Italy, the Adriatic Sea and Albania.
The Bitola airshow was opened on a very spectacular way when a pair of Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss amphibious fire-fighting aircraft, registered Z3-BGT and Z3-BGU, performed low-and-fast fly pass over Logovardi grass runway following what they demonstrated their dedicated abilities when Z3-BGU made an impressive salvo drop of 2.840 liters of water followed by Z3-BGT that made 350 meters long continuous drop of the same water load quantity.
The 2010 Bitola airshow will remain remembered as the first-ever public display of Air Tractor fleet of the Protection and Rescue Directorate of the Republic of Macedonia. In 2009 that Macedonian Government institution procured three AT-802A Fire Boss planes, related aircraft equipment, spare parts and training for pilots, engineers and mechanics under a 10,3 million USD Purchase Contract with the Spanish company “Air Tractor Europe S.L.”.
The demonstration of Protection and Rescue Directorate Air Tractor AT-802A Fire Boss planes at Logovardi effectively marked the end of 2010 fire-fighting season, the first for Macedonian AT-802A Fire Boss fleet, during which the three Macedonian fire-fighting planes performed 142 wildfires-extinguishing flights in a total time of 40 hours.
The attractiveness of the Bitola airshow was also helped by the Macedonian Air Force that deployed to Logovardi a total of five aircraft – two helicopters and three planes – that all except one participated in the flying program. A pair of Zlin 242L planes (registered VAM-102/Z3-DCN and Z3-DCT) performed a short but attractive acrobatic flying while the transport biplane An-2R Colt (registered VAM-150) was used to bring a group of parachutists to a safe drop attitude over Logovardi airport.
The most attractive flying program, however, was given by the Macedonian Air Force Mi-24V combat helicopter (registered VAM-202) that was accompanied to Logovardi by one Mi-17 transport helicopter (registered VAM-302) that sadly took part only in the static exposition. Unlike the previous two years, this year the Bitola airshow was short of the participation of Macedonian Police Helicopter Unit that usually support such events with its always-attractive helicopter fleet.
Nevertheless, the presence of Macedonian sport clubs was quite obvious with all except Aero Club “Skopje” attending the event. The result of cooperation between Macedonian aero clubs was clearly demonstrated in two group-flying occasions – the trio of Utva 75A-21 planes (Z3-DCF owned by Aero Club “Shtip”, Z3-DCG owned by Aero Club “Prilep” and Z3-DCH owned by Aero Club “Mirko Todorovski”) was promptly followed by a duo of Cessna 172 aircraft (Z3-DAE owned by Aero Club “Mirko Todorovski” and Z3-DCH owned by “Boni Air”).
The host of the Bitola airshow, Aero Club “Mirko Todorovski”, used its Utva 75A-21 (registered Z3-DCH) to tow and put in the air their Let L-23 Super Blanik glider (registered Z3-5003) that give an impressive flying over Logovardi airfield.
The host also put in static its sole Utva 66 aircraft (registered Z3-DCB/51101) that despite being non-operational is having a historical value due to the fact it is the first serial produced aircraft of that type.
The Bitola 2010 airshow also saw appropriate share of participation by Aero Club “Mirko Todorovski” model aviation enthusiasts as well as of Macedonian ultra-light community that was represented by at least three aircraft: ICP Savannah (registered Z3-SAA), Maja (registered Z3-UA-002) and Fascination D4B (registered Z3-UA-008).
All in all, the “The 3rd International Air Show” in Bitola was a real success having in mind the overall stagnation and slow development of the Macedonian aviation over the past years. The event saw a huge attention by Macedonian media and was attended by some 4.000 visitors from all over the country.
The intention of organizers is to transform this event into an annual ever-improving tradition with an initial goal 2011 Bitola airshow to become real international event that will attract some 10.000 visitors that will be delighted by the presence of some well-recognized international acrobatic group.

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