- jul 03 2016
Nest of the Alien - Visit at Namest Helicopter Base
Our Team visited the 22. Helicopter Air Force Base of Czech Air Force at Náměšť nad Oslavou in june to get a closer look to the new "Alien Tiger" and the everyday life of the base.
The Nato Tiger Meet is one of the if not the most well known joint excersise in Europe. The whole thing started in 1960 between an american and a british unit, which now holds 24 full member units and 10 honorary members. One of the full members – since 2001 – is the 221. Helicopter Squadron (221. vrtulníkovou letku ) from the Czech Air Force. The unit is part of the 22. Helicopter Air Force Base (22. základny vrtulníkového letectva) at Náměšť nad Oslavou, south part of the Czech Republic in the Vysočina Region. During the years the base had many types of planes ranging from bombers (Su-7, Su-22), close air support (Su-25), trainers (L-39, L-159) and helicopters (MI-17, Mi-24), the Mi-24 helicopters moved in 2008 from Prerov.
The helicopter unit is a full member of the Tiger Association unit, it is the only helicopter unit in the Association that flies an attack helicopter. The Tiger Meet's tradition is that every unit that will take part in the excersise will make one special painted jet/helicopter, in the light of the Tiger as a main symbol and mascot for all the participating units. The 221. Helicopter Squadron already made several great special painted helicopters and for 2016 everyone waited...what will be this year? Aviation enthusiast eagerly wait every year looking at the internet, which unit will make the most awesome paint job. We can easily say, that for 2016, the 221. Helicopter Squadron did the best, and the organizers of the Tiger Meet felt the same...the Best Painted Tiger Aircraft trophy went to the Czech unit for the third time since 2001. Naming the helicopter the Alien Tiger and looking at it, it is no question where the name comes from. We were very interested very much of the why...why the alien style was used. The answers were at Náměšť nad Oslavou and after a few weeks of emails, we were granted to enter the base.
Arriving to the base after a long journey, Štěpánka Tříletá from the Public Relations escorted us to the building of the unit were people waited for us, including the crew of the helicopter, who flew the Alien Tiger that day. We asked before, so we could see the Hind in flying maing some photos and a video from it, and for our luck, the unit did the daily routine flight with the Alien Tiger that day. After talking through the day, we headed to a point where we were able to make the best photos. The crew of the Alien Tiger did a fine job, howering close to us, so we could have the best result.
We did the spectacular part of the day so it was information gathering. Where did the Alien Tiger started? Flight Engineer Karel Novotný showed us some ideas that were dropped, as he said they were good, but none of them were „that” good as he said. There was no consensus which one could it be the best representing the people behind the idea and the unit as well. Then Karel Novotný rememberd his friend Jan Rükr a graphic artist and Alien design fan, making paper-model space ships from the Alien movies.
Both people came up with the idea of using the Alien concept on merging it with the tiger scheme, Jan Rükr painted some ideas on papers, which was challenging for him, since the Alien motifs had to follow the airframe, and some tiger motifs had to be installed there as well. Another challenge was there too, the final word of the General Staff. As Karel Novotný told us, they not just accepted it, but most of the General Staff liked the idea as well, and it was all up to Jan Rükr and his paintbrushes. Jan Rükr also designed an alien tiger figure alone, which later was used as the patch of the Czech participation in Spain.
The artist went to Prague-Kbely airport with his brother and started their work on the 3366 serial number Mi-24 at the LOM Praha s.p. hangar. They used 40 liters of liquids (colors, polish, thinner, hardener, matter) in three weeks with a total of 200 working hours, the helicopter is painted with 6 colors only: black, white , purple-pink, brown and azure blue. Interesting fact that the 3366 came in 2005 to the Czech Republic, at Pardubice airport. The whole painting job was done with airbrush technique with six airbrush pistols.
After the work the helicopter returned on the 9th of May to Náměšť nad Oslavou and a little bit later, the photos of the Alien Tiger went public and immediatly went viral. People of the net, aviation enthusiasts went crazy for it. The first public display of the helicopter was the Nato Tiger Meet at Zaragoza home of the 15th Wing (Ala 15) of the Spanish Air Force. The Alien Tiger also participated at the Mountain Fight 2016 training in the French Pyrenees.
Another special painted helicopter we were able to see as well. The Mi-24 serial number 3370 called „Kosťa” was painted last year in the memory to the Czechoslovak pilots who fought in the Royal Air Force during WWII, the painting reffers to the B-24 Liberator GR.Mk.VI (Serial: K / PP - EV953 ex RAF) from the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron, which was the first plane after the end of WW2 that landed in liberated Czechoslovakia.
The air base at Náměšť nad Oslavou has a connection to the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron and the Liberator that was painted specialy for the 2015 event. On the occasion of the National Day 28th of october 1998, president of the Czech Republic has granted the airbase the name „Biscay”, to the legacy of the 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron. The Bomber Squadron unit did anti-submarine work over the Bay of Biscay during the war. The squadron was responsible for the sinking of the German blockade runner Alsterufer on 28 December 1943 prior to the Battle of the Bay of Biscay.
For our visit we would like to thank, the Office Chief of General Staff, Štěpánka Tříletá from the Public Relations of the 22nd Air Force Base, LTC Martin Janďourek 22nd HAB commander, Flight Engineer Karel Novotný, Jan Rükr for his graphics and everyone else at the base who we met. Děkuji! The Alien Hind will be seen at two more airshows this year on display: on two airshows of the Czech Republic, the Czech International Air Fest in Hradec Králové and NATO Days in Ostrava.
Please visit Jan Rükr's webpage: http://www.sulaco.cz/home.html
For informations of the squadron visit: http://www.lznamest.army.cz/