The air transportation base at Prague - Kbely has a certified display pilot of the W-3A Sokol helicopter. He will present his skills at an airshow

 29. 04. 2019      category: Army of the Czech Republic
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After six years the W-3A Sokol helicopter at the Kbely air transportation base has its own display pilot. He will present his skills this weekend during the event “Den ve vzduchu (A Day in the Air)” at the Plasy airport. His name is Major Petr Šafařík, he has spent 2420 hours in the air as a pilot and was certified at the end of March.

Photo: Mjr. Petr Šafařík |, archive of Mjr. Šafařík

To become a so called display pilot requires the ability to demonstrate a plane, in this case a helicopter, and to maneuver it at airshows. Nevertheless, reaching this goal is not at all easy, it requires a vast theoretical and practical preparation. Within the theoretical part of the preparation the pilot must very exhaustively and thoroughly study relevant regulations and know the technical capability and limits of his helicopter type. This is connected with the ability of the pilot to theoretically and practically solve special situations which could arise during the flight demonstration and affect the safety of the viewers.

Photo: W-3A Sokol helicopter|, archive of Mjr. Šafařík

Safety first

“Safety of the whole demonstration is priority. The display pilot must be prepared for all situations that may arise during the exhibition. Of course the theoretical preparation also includes learning from the experience of former display pilots,” explains Major Šafařík, and adds that pilots do not invent their individual demonstration themselves.

“Maneuvers in a demonstration are more or less given, the pilot can only arrange individual components in a way that suits him in the particular demonstration area. The pilot must drill the demonstration before the season,” notes Major Šafařík.

Photo: Demonstration of rescue and acrobatics with the W-3A Sokol helicopter |, Cpt. Zuzana Špačková

If he masters all these phases, the pilot can proceed to the certification itself, which means examination of the pilot during the demonstration flight by an inspector of the Military Aviation Authority. A display pilot remains at his post usually for the period of three years. Major Šafařík is starting his second period. He worked as a display pilot of the W-3A Sokol helicopter already from 2010 to 2013.

High level of aviation skills

The role of a display pilot is connected with a high level of aviation skills and psychological and physical load. With regard to the fact that during the demonstration limits of the flight envelope of the helicopter and of the pilot’s capabilities are touched, high demand is laid on the pilotage technique. Demonstrations for the public are therefore not suitable for beginner pilots.

Photo: Helicopter demonstration in the velocity range 0-220 kmph |, Cpt.  Zuzana Špačková

Major Šafařík will display his machine, W-3A Sokol, already this weekend at the Plasy airport. Apart from that he will demonstrate his aviation skills at the Helicopter Show in Hradec Králové and Open Days in Čáslav in May, and at the Pardubice Airshow, and NATO Days and Czech Airforce Days in Ostrava in June, as well as at other events organized by the Army of the Czech Republic.

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