Nothing lasts forever – not even the sturdy Tupolev Tu-154s. At least, not within the European Union. Currently, the Government of Slovakia is the last remaining operator of the type within the EU. That will, however, change on August 27, 2017, when OM-BYO will fly for the last time.
“Change of Guards” at SIAF 2017
Slovak International Air Fest (SIAF) is an annual airshow held at Sliac Air Base in Slovakia (about 2 hours drive from Bratislava, 3 hours from Vienna). It will be held on August 26-27 (Saturday & Sunday) this year.
While both of the days will include a large variety of static and flying displays, Sunday – August 27 – will be very special. Something the organizers decided to call the “Change of Guards” will take place.
It seems like on both days a formation flight of all three airliners operated by the Slovak government – Airbus A319, Fokker 100 and Tupolev Tu-154 – will happen. However, the Sunday fly-past will be special given that the Tu-154 will head directly to Kosice – a city in the east of Slovakia – rather than returning to the capital, Bratislava. Hence, the “change of guards” – from the old Tupolev Tu-154 to the new Airbus A319.
The Future of the Slovak Government Tu-154
The Tu-154 will head to Kosice to join the collection of a local aviation museum. The museum is, among other aircraft, also home to one of the recently retired Yak-40s.
As such, the Sunday fly-past will be the last ever flight of OM-BYO – and given that OM-BYR (the second Tu-154) is not active anymore – also the last ever flight of a Tupolev Tu-154 registered within European Union.
As for OM-BYR which is currently sitting on the apron in Slovakia, I heard that there are some efforts to get it displayed in Bratislava. However, we will have to wait and see what the fate of that one is going to be.
In either case, the last August weekend will be a unique opportunity to not only see all the types operated by the Slovak government in the air. It will also be the last chance to see the Slovak Tu-154, or any Tu-154 registered in European Union for that matter, in the air.
Unfortunately, I will not be in Slovakia at that time, so I will miss this unique occasion. However, if you happen to be in Europe around that time, perhaps, it might be worth considering a quick trip to Slovakia. It might also be a good chance to do some spotting at Vienna airport in Austria.
And, in case you cannot make it, consider visiting the Kosice aviation museum sometime in the future. I will try to go there this or next year, so you can expect a detailed report about it here!
Have you photographed the Slovak government Tu-154 before? If so, where?
Are you considering attending the SIAF 2017 airshow to see the last flight of the Tu-154?