With participation already confirmed from 9 countries, the Organisers of the RAF Waddington International Air Show are delighted to announce another addition to this year’s displays. The Slovak Air Force has confirmed that it will be making a welcome return to the show, demonstrating its L-39CM CM Albatross jet trainer. The aircraft is specially painted this year to celebrate the life and achievements of Sqn Ldr Otto Smík, a young hero of the English skies who fled Slovakia at the onset of the Second World War and became one of the most successful combatants among Czechoslovakian pilots who served in the Royal Air Force. In celebration of Sqn Ldr Smík’s 90th birthday anniversary, the L-39CM Albatross tail art currently features a portrait of this young, talented fighter.
Shortly after Czechoslovakia was occupied by Hitler on 15 March 1939, the Germans declared Slovakia to be an independent state. Despite many Slovaks welcoming this new independence it was not welcome news to some and this was the case in the Smík home. Otto, now eighteen, made a dash across Europe arriving in England in 1940, promptly mustering into the RAF to pursue his love of aviation. Smík was eventually posted to 312 Sqn RAF, flying both the Hurricane and Spitfire, claiming 13 confirmed kills of enemy aircraft during his service.
In June 1944 Smík’s squadron was part of the support for Operation Overlord, better known as the D-Day Landings, during which thousands of allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy in northern France at the start of a major offensive against the enemy. Whilst the operation was a great success, Smík was sadly killed later on that year, aged just 22 years, after his badly damaged aircraft crashed on landing.
70 years on as we commemorate the anniversary of D-Day, Sqn Ldr Otto Smík’s memory will live on in the skies above RAF Waddington, during the air show over the 5th and 6th July 2014. The Albatross will be supported by a Let410, a type not often seen in the UK, which will be on static display.
Mr Paul Sall, The Air Show Director said: ‘We are thrilled to welcome the Slovak Air Force back to RAF Waddington, particularly with such a poignant tribute that will remind us all of the bravery of all forces personnel involved in the D-Day Landings operation.’
The aim of the air show is to raise public understanding of the RAF and its role, attracting over 140,000 visitors every year. Proceeds from the show are donated to force and local charities. Since 1995 the show has donated over £3.3m to the RAF Benevolent Fund, RAF Association and other worthy causes including funding for the Air Cadets and the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial Fund.
Tickets sales began in November and are showing over 30% increase in sales from this time last year.
For more information about the show, to book admission tickets or enclosure seats go to http://www.waddingtonairshow.co.uk/.