Radom Air Show
|Type:||Large military airshow|
|Schedule:||Bi-yearly, end of August|
|Location:||Radom Sadków airbase, Poland|
|Editions attended:||2009 2011|
Radom Air Show is organized every two years by the Polish Air Force, in cooperation with local authorities. While it has its ups and downs (see below), it's usually a good opportunity to see some Eastern aircrafts in action. Definitely worth a visit once!
Radom is situated about 100km from Warsaw, which has good connections with the rest of Europe, both by train and by plane. Following the recent wave of economic immigration, there are quite a few low-cost airlines that land at the Okęcie airport.
Most major international rent-a-car companies are present at the airport, check out the webpage for a full list. Note that the prices might be a bit higher than, e.g. in the UK.
Way from the airport to the showground is pretty straightforward. From the
first, take the
Once you are there, what's left is mostly a straight road that will lead you to Radom (follow the signs). You will find the only major junction in Janki - follow Krakowska street (left).
Once you arrive at Radom during the show days, you will be directed to one of the dedicated parking zones. The most common way starts by turning left on the big roundabout and then, following the signs / police guidance. You can also try to turn right on the above roundabout and get around the town to come from the south. This way, in 2009, I managed to get my car parked in the industrial zone, just few minutes walk from the airbase entrance.
If you end up in some more distant parking zone, there will be some shuttle buses provided, which will drive you at the airbase entry. Bus fare is included in your parking ticket - but they are not valid for general city transport, just for the parking-airbase transfer.
Note that the traffic is not very well organized, especially after the show - you can expect major traffic jams, taking up to 2h to just get out of the city!
Outside the two official days, it is mostly normal city traffic, you just park your car wherever you can.
Some hints for driving in Poland
Traffic rules in Poland are, errm... slightly different than in most of the western countries Few tips to help you to survive:
- People generally don't obey speed limits. This is partially due to the limit signs being often stupid, like 60-40-50 one after the other, on a straight, good road. If you will drive sticking to the signs, you might actually endanger the traffic. Use your common sense.
- In particular: in Poland you can get fined for following the speed limits as opposed to driving 20km/h above, as everyone else does (and yes, you can get a fine for driving 5km/h too much as well)
- The police with a mobile radar is quite common sight. Using GPS-based and passive radar detectors is legal, unlike using active ones, which disturb the radar. Once you are caught as a foreigner, you have to pay the fine on spot.
- If the cars driving towards you flash the road lights, you can expect a radar control nearby.
- If you drive in a queue and you see a person at the pedestrian crossing without traffic lights, do not stop! You might end up with another car on your back and the person - get hit by a car coming from your left, who will not bother to stop. Follow the crowd, he/she will find the way between the cars.
- When somebody is overtaking you on a single-laned road, move yourself slightly to the right (it's OK to use side-lane for this). Do not be surprised at people overtaking you even with incoming trafic closely in sight.
Hint (perhaps not for the airport-showground transfer, but rather in general): if you want to be on safe side, use small, rural roads. It will take you much more time, but will be generally much less stressful.
Search for "Driving in Poland" for more insights - they're all true
By public transport
Most convenient way is to use a train to the main station. Radom is quite well connected to Warsaw, in the morning you can expect at least one direct train from the Warszawa Zachodnia station every hour. During the show days there are sometimes extra trains organized - check out the event website for up-to-date information.
Once you arrive at Radom, there will be some special trains / buses transferring you directly to the airbase.
As usual: be there early! Most of the airshow crowd arrives around 9-10am and, in the peak time, it might take up to 1h to just get through the gates (they are not very well organized, at least in 2009 they weren't).
Hotels in the area
Radom is a relatively big city, and as such, has quite a few hotels. I haven't stayed in any, but reviews on Booking.com are generally positive. They are all in the city centre (see Google map) so you'll have around 1-2km to the airbase entry - but nothing dramatic, just a straight walk via Żeromskiego & Lubelska streets
Prices are much lower than in western Europe (or even Warsaw for that matter). Generally,
you'll pay 150-300PLN (40-80EUR) for a double room, the latter giving you rather remarkable standard.
Out of the hotels listed on Booking.com,
Note: in the cheaper hotels you might have an issue speaking English.
Another note: as usual, the hotels are fully booked well in advance for the airshow days. Make your reservation early!
During the airshow days, starting on Friday, organizers provide a large camping place in the scout training center, around 10km from the airbase (Rajec village). The prices are modest, 10PLN/person, 10PLN/car, slightly more for camping cars etc.
The disadvantage of the camping is that there is no easy direct transport to the airbase provided. Unless you have a car, you have to rely on public transport (which can be crowdy these days) or some private carriers that use an opportunity to get some extra money by driving people to the nearest airshow bus stop.
Always look at the event webpage for up-to-date information about the camping place.
Coming by car gives you some extra flexibility for staying a bit away from the city. There is quite a lot of small agrotourism sites in the villages around the city. The challenge is to find them
Trying www.agroturystyka.pl returns at least two sites nearby:
- Korzen pension - about 20km north from Radom
- Ptasie Siolo - somewhere here, few km north from the town
I actually stayed in the latter place in 2009 and it was rather OK.
Timetable at Radom Air Show is a bit similar to any other big event, like RIAT:
- Thursday: arrivals, first rehearsals
- Friday: late arrivals, most of the rehearsals
- Saturday-Sunday: the show
- Monday: departures
Note that one can't enter the airbase outside of the show days (unless you get a spotter pack). Not that it's a big problem, as the best photo spots are actually located outside of the fence, as you will see later.
During the weekend, the gates open at 8am. Between 10-12h there is some light display activity (gliders, ULMs, general aviation) - it's nice, but due to the distance usually not very photographic. The real action starts at noon and lasts until 5-6pm.
Photo opportunities (public)
The public area in Radom is laid out in the worst possible way You are facing the sun almost all the day, only in the very late afternoon, once sun is to the right, there are some possibilities for shots in the air.
What's more, the security limits are quite tight and the action is at least 500m from the crowdline. Which actually might have saved some people's lives during the 2007 disaster...
If staying within the showground, you should probably just stick to the most western corner. This way, you will benefit from the sun moving west soonest and will be able to capture some shots at least partially lit. You'll also get good views for the aircrafts coming in/out of the west dynamic parking
There are few areas that might be interesting in terms of static photos:
- Main static display, located on the SW-NE taxiway. Recommended for Sunday morning.
- General aviation parking. Ideally, you should come here on Saturday late afternoon, after the show is over You will get some nice evening sun, not much crowd and nice forest as a backdrop.
- Large transport aircrafts - they are parked within the spectator's zone, just with few barriers around. Again, the best time for some shots there is when the show is over and everybody rushes to the gates. During the day, the area is usually crowded with the people queuing to visit the cockpits.
- Parking of Polish aerobatic teams. Timing - as above. You can't approach the aircrafts too close, but still some nice shots are possible later in the day. This is the most eastbound point you can officially get to within the showground.
- Secondary dynamic parking. It might host other aerobatic teams and some less prominent solo gear, like (unfortunately) Polish MiG-29. It's not accessible, you can just try to get some shots from the previous point, using a telephoto lens.
Note that the main static display is not laid in a very photographer-friendly way. You will often see lots of random items placed around the planes, tables/chairs of the staff, some people walking freely behind the barriers and obscuring the photos etc. Still, some nice shots can be definitely done there, especially on Sunday morning.
Use of stepladders/windshields
Both stepladders and windshields are permitted. Surprisingly, the Polish public seems to have some common sense and is using them right way - you won't see many of these attached tightly to the crowdline, unlike in some other, supposedly more "civilized" countries.
Radom event organizers make a special offer for the photographers called, not very surprisingly, "spotters pack" It provides you with following benefits:
- Showground access on Thursday and Friday (but not on Monday!)
- Access to three dedicated photo spots (see below)
- Possibility of parking in the press area on Thursday and Friday
- Airshow ticket is included
In 2009, the price for Spotter Pack was set to 300PLN (~70EUR).
- South-eastern corner
While it looks very appealing, as it is located on the southern side of the airfield, it actually is not. Most importantly, you are almost facing the end of runway. Once the displays start (at noon), the sun is already on your left. As the day progresses, it's getting more and more annoying, spoiling most of the action shots.
If you are after takeoff/landing photos - you are far from the runway, about few hundred meters. In order to get some of the shots you see here, I had to use a 700mm lens (and watch out for moments with a bit less blur caused by the heat).
All in all: recommended, but only for morning arrivals (both Thursday and Friday)
- Western corner
In 2009 it was first announced to be located right in the runway axis. This got many people (including myself) excited and rushing for the Spotter Packs Unfortunately, shortly before the show the spot was moved approximately 100m north, behind the main dynamic parking. Security Reasons™.
While the change definitely affected the photo opportunities there, it still remained quite usable for the rolling shots. With a bit of luck (you need to find a way between the aircrafts on the dynamic parking) you can get face-to-face shots of most landing machines. Besides, in the afternoon, it gets quite good for the shots in the air, with sun on your right and action on your left.
I actually regret skipping this spot in 2009. Seeing the photos on Polish forums, looks like one could really get some nice shots from there.
- Central sector
Spotter pack gives you also access to the official press area, located in the VIP sector. It's not particularly useful, mostly if you want to take one day easy and just watch the show without being stuck in the crowd.
Is it worth it?
I'm tentative about it, as there are quite some disadvantages of the whole thing.
First and biggest problem there is lack of good organization. There are often no clear indications what's permitted and what is not. Officially, you can't enter neither of the dynamic parkings, nor get behind the barriers of the static one. Still, some people were going mostly everywhere, including the far end of the dynamic parking and nobody seemed to care. Unless somebody eventually did care and threw them away. Well, you get the picture. Being used to the Swiss order (sticking to whatever I was told), I missed lots of opportunities this way
Bus transport between the photo spots (in particular to the south-eastern one) is provided. But... instead of simply crossing the runway through the eastern taxiway, bus goes all around the airport, visiting half of the nearby villages and getting stuck between the cars of the spotters hanging around the base - taking 30min for something that could take 5. All of this while your time is most precious, as the photo opportunities are passing by.
You get no discounts on food or something. Some people reported that they got some kind of welcome package, containing airshow programme, some publicity and a T-shirt. Well, I got none and never heard about it neither before, nor during the show
You have to use the public parking spaces during the airshow days (so you may end up far far away from the entry and having to use the extra means of transport)
From my experience, the staff is not very photographer-friendly. They are not aware about various aspects of what we do and why certain things might be more important (like timing). It's not like they're unfriendly either! Just pretty indifferent, simply following what they were told to do and, in case of anything unclear, taking the safe do nothing approach. For me this was quite a contrast with other similar events I attended - like spotter days in France, or the Airpower airshow.
Finally, the photo spots are not that much impressive. None of them is well aligned with the sun moving around,
there is an obvious lack of something near the south-western
corner of the area.
All in all... well, OK, if I go again, I'll probably get that spotter package again but being fully aware of all the above.
Photo opportunities (other)
Here comes the best part as the nicest photo spots in Radom are actually located outside the base
- Skaryszewska street
The street is adjacent to the south-western corner of the airfield, there is just a single line of houses between it and the fence. Most of the terrain is private, but there are few non-reserved spots, usually quite crowded. The most well known one is probably the "playground".
Alternatively, you might try asking the owners for permission to shoot from their terrain, but it can be difficult to get it arranged on spot.
In any case, you will need a stepladder, as there is a row of high bushes right at the fence. Ideally, you need to get around 2m above the ground, but just about anything will do. You will see lots of locals preparing complex installations attached to the fence in 2009 I was lucky to be taking pictures from such a "shooting tower" myself.
- Ogrodnicza/Rejmonta street
This is another known spot at Radom - it's much more towards the runway axis than the ones at Skaryszewska. There is at least few meters of uncovered fence that can be used for photography. Here as well, locals seem to be willing to help people with prior arrangements (supposedly, not for free either).
This spot is good mostly in the afternoon, as you get more display action with the sun behind your back. No chances for side-shots of starting aircrafts though.
- Meadows south from the Skaryszewska st.
Lots of the display aircrafts/teams fly directly above this area - and the space is mostly open, you can position yourself whatever way you want, taking sun into account.
- Eastern approach area
Especially on Thursday/Friday mornings, you will see crowds of people gathered mostly everywhere, shooting arriving aircrafts. You should be able to get there with a car, just look out for guys with cameras, there will be certainly a lot.
Traffic restrictionsImportant: during the show days, all car access to the Skaryszewska area is restricted. The police are closing the entries from the Słowackiego and Ogrodnicza streets, allowing only the locals to pass by. If you arrive early enough, you might be able to pass, but later in the day, once you drive out of the area, there is no more return. This applies as well to various village roads on the south-eastern side of the airfield (but, somehow, not to the approach area).
NOTE: all the above mentioned places are within the possible danger zone, at least for team displays and fast solo jets. You are there entirely on your own risk. While in the Skaryszewska area, the aircrafts are often flying directly above you - and quite low (400mm is sometimes enough to get a close-up of the canopy!). Keep in mind that the 2009 crash of Belarussian Su-27 happened not very far from some of these spots. I still remember people who left the fence area and rushed west, towards the meadows - exactly opposite to the way that Sukhoi flew before impact...
On the other hand, these are normal, inhabited areas and people live their daily lives there (apart from crowd of spotters invading every possible hole in the fence ). Also, organizers seem to be pretty indifferent about presence in the areas outside the showground. Actually, in 2009 they even put an unofficial map (created by my friend Tompac), where are these areas are clearly listed and explained.
All in all, once you know all the ups and downs, decide for yourself.
Pretty generic set of airshow facilities. Slight issue with the toilets: they are located close to the airbase installations, along the large aircraft static display. If you stick to the south-western corner of the showground (as advised above) you will find yourself quite distant from them, it can take 5-10mins to get to the nearby ones.
There is rather good choice of food, starting with simple hamburgers and ending with complete meals.
Prices are quite reasonable, even for Polish standards:
|Single day entry (adult):||30PLN (7EUR)|
|Single day entry (reduced):||20PLN (5EUR)|
|Both days entry (adult):||50PLN (12EUR)|
|Both days entry (reduced):||30PLN (7EUR)|
|Children < 4 years:||free|
|Spotter Pack:||300PLN (70EUR)|
Reduced price tickets are available for the students up to 26 years old. EURO26 card should be fine for foreign visitors.
Tickets can be bought at the gates. There is a possibility to buy the tickets through Polish auction service Allegro.pl - however, in 2009 there were some issues regarding sending them to some customers. I'd recommend just buying them on the day, unless you speak Polish
Comparably, the food is rather expensive. A simple tea might cost you 5PLN (2EUR), any reasonable food will be 15-20PLN (4-5EUR). Still, not a lot compared to the cost of coming there from abroad.
It's worth noting that, when the first day of 2009 event was cancelled because of bad weather, the organizers have voluntarily extended Saturday's tickets validity to Sunday.
Last updated: 21-10-2012, 17:07