Approximately 60,000 visitors attended the NATO Days in Ostrava and the Czech Air Force Days during the weekend, which took place at the airport in Mošnov, Ostrava in the east of Czechia.
An especially large number of visitors came on Saturday from a greater distance and from abroad, particularly from Poland and Slovakia. In the past, the event was attended by over 200,000 people. This year, the number of spectators was limited to a maximum of 40,000 every day due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight hours of program every day
At the airport, spectators could watch about eight hours of the program every day, in which there were dynamic demonstrations both in the air and on the ground. In addition, people could see several machines in the airport area. Among them was, for the first time, the Italian Air Force’s F-35 Lightning II multi-role aircraft. The unmanned American MQ-9 Reaper was also on display at one of the first events in Europe.
The surprise, which the organizers prepared, was a joint mass jump of paratroopers from the Czech army and the Israeli Defense Forces from the CASA C-295 transport aircraft. The jump was meant to symbolize the cooperation between the two states, which has lasted since the establishment of the state of Israel for over 70 years. This was the first jump of Israeli paratroopers on Czech territory since the establishment of the Czech Republic.
“There are few states with which the Czech Republic has, and Czechoslovakia used to have, as good relations as with Israel. Thanks to this, we can offer our visitors this unique jump, because the participation of Israeli forces in a public event in Europe is very rare,” said the chairman of the organizing organization Jagello 2000 Zbyněk Pavlačík.
Weather affected the event
The weather probably affected attendance, but also the program. It didn’t rain, but it was cloudy. Due to weather conditions, the jump of the Polish special forces, which the paratroopers wanted to perform according to GPS coordinates and jump from 3,000 meters, was canceled on Saturday.
Pavlačík said that no flight demonstrations were interrupted due to the weather.
NATO Days is the largest security show in Europe. Army, security, and rescue units from 17 countries were present at the event.
Admission to the two-day event is free. However, due to controls on the number of people, this year, for the first time, visitors had to buy tickets in advance, while paying only a service fee of 15 korunas. They also had to have a vaccine passport or a negative test. Last year, due to a coronavirus pandemic, NATO Days took place without visitors, who could watch the event on the Internet.
Title image: Spain’s Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighter pilot prepares for take off during NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission during the Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda and Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez visit at the Siauliai military air force base some 220 kms (136,7 miles) east of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)