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Open Day 2001


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150,000 people visited Laage Airbase on the Open Day of the former Fighter Wing 73 “Steinhoff” on a perfect sunny day on 25 August 2001. They were offered numerous attractions in the air and on the ground. Aircraft and helicopters from the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany visited the airbase. More than 800 soldiers and civilian employees supported the organization in the execution of the event.

 

Laage Airbase had been taken over by the Bundeswehr after the reunification of the two German states. In 1993, it was decided to merge Test and Evaluation Wing MiG-29 from Preschen in Brandenburg and Fighter Bomber Wing 35 from Pferdsfeld/Bad Sobernheim in Rhineland-Palatinate with its F-4F PHANTOM to become Fighter Wing 73 at Laage Airbase. This was a novelty within NATO and even within the Bundeswehr. The deployment of the MiG-29 took until December 1995 and the F-4F PHANTOM followed until September 1997. During the official activation ceremony, Dr. Volker Rühe, then Federal Minister of Defense, awarded the unit its traditional name “Steinhoff".

After 1998, Fighter Wing 73 "Steinhoff" (the predecessor of Tactical Air Force Wing 73 "Steinhoff") organized another Open Day on 25 August 2001. This was going to be the biggest event in the history of the air force unit that was meanwhile well known all over the world. Everything was big in the context of this event. The statistics reads like a list of superlatives.

As many as 150,000 visitors came to enjoy the entertainment and information program that was provided by the still young air force wing on its airbase inMecklenburg. 100 shuttle busses transported the visitors from the parking areas to the airfield and back. The parking areas accommodated almost 87,000 vehicles, which - on the other hand – nearly brought all road traffic in the Rostock-Laage area to a standstill.

Approximately 300 international and national crews took part in the event as guests and provided spectators and visitors with detailed information on the performance of their weapon systems which were presented in static and flying displays.

 

The following weapon systems were presented on the Open Day:

 

ALPHA JET

AWACS

C-160 TRANSALL

CH-53

Cougar

B-1B USAF bomber from Ellsworth AFB

BellUH-1D

Bo-105

Eurocopter 135 (and: EC35)

EUROFIGHTER

F-4F PHANTOM

F-15

F-16 (USAFE and RNAF)

F-18

F-104 STARFIGHTER

MiG-23

Mirage 2000

Mirage III

PA-200 TORNADO

PA-200 TORNADO F3

SEA LYNX

 

As well as the fighters of the host unit:

F-4F PHANTOM and

MiG-29 FULCRUM.

 

Interested visitors were able to gain a first impression of the new jet - EUROFIGHTER/TYPHOON - that was to be stationed at Laage Airbase and had a close look at 98+29 and 30+00, a “mock-up” demonstrator.

 

A two-hour flying program was presented twice on this day. Demonstrations of climb performance, interception missions and vapor trails, many other attractions as well as different stands offering food and drinks created a kind of festival atmosphere.

In the evening, personnel of TAFW 73, their families and guests came together for a hangar party where they had the chance to renew existing contacts or exchange information on common topics.

 

This organization of this major event was of significant importance for the Rostock-Laage region. After all, military aircraft and commercial airliners of the civilian partner, the Airport Rostock-Laage, are always present in everyday live. And this is why it is even more important for a unit to present itself in public as an air force unit and demonstrate its capabilities and activities performed together with the allied partners. The aim is to come to a constructive cooperation with the citizens of the municipalities in the neighborhood and with the political and economic leaders on the basis of mutual understanding.




Homebase:

Tactical Fighter Wing 73 "Steinhoff" Laage

Time period:

25.08.2001

Visitor(s):

150.000

Author(s):

Tristan Radike and Erik Pflanz http://www.derkranich.de

Photographs:

Peter Heiner