14th Transport Aviation Squadron in Powidz. 2007-2010

Powidz 2009-12-19

14th Transport Aviation Squadron in Powidz.

2007 - 2010.

PZL M-28 nb 0204. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
PZL M-28 nb 0204. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

The commemorative badge of the 14th Transport Aviation Squadron in Powidz
The commemorative badge of the 14th Transport Aviation Squadron in Powidz

On November 5, 2007, celebrations were held in Powidz to mark the commencement of operations of the 14th Transport Aviation Squadron. On January 31, 2008, there were changes in the subordination of some aviation units. From January 31, 2008, the 3rd Transport Aviation Brigade took over the 33rd BLot Powidz under its direct subordination.

From January 31, 2008, the 3rd BLTr included: 2nd Transport and Liaison Aviation Squadron (2 ELTŁ) in Bydgoszcz. 3rd Transport and Liaison Aviation Squadron (3 ELTŁ) in Wrocław. 13th Transport Aviation Squadron (13 ELTr) in Kraków. 14th Transport Aviation Squadron (14 ELTr) in Powidz. 2. Air Base (2 Blot) in Bydgoszcz. 3rd Air Base (3 Blot) in Wrocław. 8th Air Base (8 Blot) in Kraków. 33rd Air Base (33 Blot) in Powidz.

From January 1, 2009, in accordance with the Order of the Air Force Commander No. PF 198 of August 26, 2008, the name of the 3rd Transport Aviation Brigade was changed into the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing. It was a purely cosmetic change aimed at unifying the names in the Polish Air Force with the nomenclature in force in NATO.

PZL M-28 Bryza. 2007 year.

The first planes adopted by the 14th ELTr were three Polish PZL M-28 Bryza. The planes came from production between 2000 and 2004 and were made as transport and landing machines. They are powered by PZL-10 S turboprop engines. In the first months of the 14th Squadron's existence, they were mainly used to improve the piloting of multi-engine aircraft and performed flights for the Squadron and the Air Base in Powidz.

PZL M-28 Bryza nb 0207 used in the 14th ELTr. 2008 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
PZL M-28 Bryza nb 0207 used in the 14th ELTr. 2008 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

In the following years, the 14th ELTr received further machines of this type. There were 8 PZL M-28 Bryza aircraft in stock. Newer machines were powered by Canadian PT6A-65B engines.

Lockheed C-130 E Hercules dla 14. ELTr. 2009 year.

The acquisition of used but modernized C-130 E Hercules medium transport aircraft resulted from Poland's significant involvement in conflicts around the world and therefore ensuring efficient transport. The whole process was long and complicated, but it ended in success. The process took place at the government, ministerial and military levels. It was related to investments at the airport and expenses, a significant part of which was covered by the American Administration, including as part of a grant awarded by the United States Congress to finance the program. The issue of crew training was also resolved.

The C-130 E Hercules aircraft selected for the Republic of Poland were overhauled by replacing the center wing, an essential element of the airframe. The renovation and modernization also concerned the avionics. The planes received the so-called open architecture, which means that in the future, if necessary and if finances are available, further new systems can be installed. Avionics allows flights in the international zone and in accordance with NATO standards. The planes received passive defense systems. New cargo handling systems were also installed. The American side offered Poland the replacement of engines and propellers at the beginning of the process of acquiring the planes. However, this was abandoned due to financial reasons and the time needed to complete the task. After five years, the planes will undergo scheduled renovations, so then, with the experience gained, we can buy appropriate modifications. The renovation allowed the machines to be operated for another 20 years.

Staff training began in Poland with improving English to the level of ECL 80-85 for pilots and ECL 70-75 for ground staff. The technical language training was conducted in the USA. Technical training in the USA and Poland. This training started in 2005. In 2008, the first flying personnel were sent to the USA. Recruitment was carried out among An-26, C-295 M and M-28 pilots. The training was conducted at the 118th Airlift Wing of the National Guard in Nashville.

On November 17, 2008, after 11 weeks of intensive flight training in Nashville, USA, the first two crews of Polish C-130 E Herkules passed the appropriate exams and became capable of piloting these machines. During this time, Polish pilots, under the supervision of instructors from the 118th Transport Aviation Wing of the Air National Guard, acquired theoretical knowledge and trained on flight simulators and aircraft.

By February 2009, two complete crews had been trained in the USA; 4 pilots, 2 navigators, 2 flight technicians, 2 loading technicians and 25 ground staff. Another three trained crews returned to the country in March 2009. This concluded the training package. The Polish side conducted further talks, as a result of which 5 more crews were trained. At that time it was the optimum, i.e. two crews per plane. In order to fully use the capabilities of the aircraft, there is a need to train 3 crews per aircraft and to send the flying staff twice a year to training on simulators in the USA for a period of 3-5 days (there is no such simulator in Europe).

The first Lockheed C-130 Hercules was to arrive in Poland at the end of 2008. Even exact dates were given; November 21, 2008, December 18, 2008, February 25, 2009. The Americans moved the date for technical reasons. It was even stated that the reason was the delay in work at the airport in Powidz. Maybe. The fact is, however, that these dates were provided by the press, not by the Polish Air Force Command. The date given by the Polish Army was March 24, 2009, and so it happened.

Lockheed C-130 Hercules nb 1504. 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Lockheed C-130 Hercules nb 1504. 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

On March 24, 2009, a Lockheed C-130 E plane took off from the USAF base in the Germanic states and appeared over the airport in Powidz accompanied by two Polish Lockheed Martin F-16 Jastrząb planes. The C-130 circled over the airport and touched down at 12:25. In this way, PSP began their adventure with C-130 aircraft. The Tuesday (March 24, 2009) ceremony was attended by, among others, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of National Defense for Defense Policy Stanisław Jerzy Komorowski, Air Force Commander Brigadier General Pilot Andrzej Błasik, Commander of the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing Brigadier General Pilot Tadeusz Mikutel, as well as representatives of the authorities local government and local governments.

All 5 C-130 aircraft are stationed in the 33rd BLot together with eight M-28 Bryza aircraft. In 2009, there were 4 M-28 aircraft.

Two MRTT (Multi-Role Transport Tanker) transport and refueling aircraft were also planned for Powidz, but the decision of the Government of the Republic of Poland (with Prime Minister Donald Tusk) was inconsistent with the Association Treaty with NATO and postponed this obligation into the indefinite future.

In 2010, the 14th ELTr and the 33rd Air Base were merged into one entity - the 33rd Transport Aviation Base, still under the command of the 3rd Transport Aviation Wing based in Powidz.

Aviation enthusiasts had the opportunity to see the first Polish C-130 E Hercules in flight and on the ground during the Air Show 2009 in Radom.

C-130 E Herkules nb 1501. Radom 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
C-130 E Herkules nb 1501. Radom 2009 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Another Lockheed C-130 Hercules plane.

In 2009, training of the 14th ELTr staff continued in the field of operation and procedures related to the use of C-130 Hercules aircraft. For this purpose, on June 16-14, 2009, a group of 40 soldiers from the 182nd Air Transport Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard stayed in Powidz, who arrived in Poland on board the American C-130 Hercules aircraft.

In the fall of 2009, it was already known that another C-130 aircraft for Poland would not arrive this year. The Americans, feeling that they had not fulfilled the terms of the contract, unilaterally decided to provide the Polish Air Force with another plane.

On October 20, 2009, another C-130 nb 1506, intended for the 14th ELTr, landed at the airport in Powidz. However, it was not another of the batch of 4 machines intended for Poland. The delivery of the second C-130 to Poland was significantly delayed, so this plane was borrowed from the Americans to train C-130 crews. The machine came from Rammstein, a large USAF base in the Germanic states. The American crew stayed in Poland all day to show the differences in equipment between this plane and the planes ordered by the Polish Army. The training ended with joint flights with mixed crews. According to the commander of the 14th ELTr, Lt. Col. pilot by Mieczysław Gaudyn, differences in equipment are not large; This is, after all, the same plane in the same E version that we have had in the country since March 2009. Of course, there are some nuances, but they do not require our staff to change their learned habits or distribute their attention differently in the cabin. Although the plane was welcomed at Okęcie in Warsaw, its home airport for the foreseeable future was the airport in Powidz. It didn't matter that it had USAF identification markings. After a few days, he received the Polish identification marks of the Polish Air Force: number 1506 and white and red checkerboards.

It has been known for two weeks that on November 2, 2009, another C-130 E will land in Powidz. The same one in which the instructors flew to conduct classes and perform joint flights to familiarize the Polish C-130 crews with the 14th ELTr from differences occurring in the aircraft cockpit. Two weeks passed and the plane was on site, as agreed for 11 months. As originally planned, the plane was lent to the Polish side free of charge due to delays in the delivery of subsequent machines. The task of the loaned C-130 E will be to support the aviation training process.

Waiting for the plane's arrival were: Commander of the 3rd SLTr. Brig. Gen. pilot Tadeusz Mikutel, Chief of Training of the 3rd SLTr, Col. M.Eng. pilot Michał Erdmański, Commander of the 14th ELTr, Lt. Col. pilot Mieczysław Gaudyn, Deputy Commander of the 33rd BLot. Lt. Col. M. Eng. Andrzej Górnicki, Head of the Aviation Technology Department of the 3rd SLTr, Lt. Col. M. Eng. Roman Bąk, Commander of the Air Squadron, Lt. Col. M. Eng. Robert Nowak. The plane arrived in Powidz as planned. It still had the markings USAF and nb RS 73 299 and soon received Szachownice and nb 1506. So far, the plane was serving at the Rammstein base.

C-130 Hercules. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
C-130 Hercules. 2018 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Disbandment of the 14th ELTr.

On July 1, 2010, the 14th Transport Aviation Squadron was incorporated into the 33rd Transport Aviation Base in Powidz.

Squadron Commanders: Lt. Col. Pil. Mieczysław Gaudyn (June 1, 2007 – November 2007). Acting Major Pil. Cezary Zdebski (11/2007 – 01/2009). Lt. Col. Pil. Mieczysław Gaudyn (01/2010 - 1/07/2010).

Written by Karol Placha Hetman