3 Tactical Aviation Squadron in Krzesiny. 2001-2008.

Poznań 2011-03-07

3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron in Krzesiny.

December 31, 2000 – April 1, 2008

Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron
Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron

Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron
Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron

Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron
Emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron

The 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron was a unit with Polish roots. Its origins are related to the 4th Greater Poland Air Squadron, formed in 1919, at Ławica Airport, which also included pilots from the 2nd Krakow-Poznań Squadron, established in France in 1918. Particularly strong roots are visible from the moment when the 131st Fighter Aviation Squadron (1928-1939) chose the raven as its emblem, which accompanies subsequent aviation units in Poznań to this day (2011).

On September 4, 1999, the 3rd Fighter Aviation Regiment celebrated its 45th anniversary. A commemorative badge was designed for this occasion. This ceremony was celebrated on the threshold of Poland's accession to NATO structures and the enormous transformations that awaited not only the Krzesiny Regiment, but the entire Polish Military Aviation.

On December 31, 2000, the 3rd Fighter Aviation Regiment was reformed into the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron and the 31st Air Base in Krzesiny. On December 29, 2000, the ceremony of disbanding the 3rd PLM took place. The new units were organizationally subordinated to the Command of the 2nd Tactical Aviation Brigade in Poznań. All this happened pursuant to the decision of the Minister of National Defense of October 3, 2000. The last commander of the 3rd PLM, Col. Col., became the commander of the 31st Air Base. pilot Antoni Masłowski, and the commander of the 3rd ELT was Maj. Dipl. pilot Wojciech Krupa.

The badge of the 3rd ELT was taken over from the 3rd PLM. The unit's emblem is a stylized raven, or more precisely, a transformation of the raven from the interwar period. It shows the image of a gray raven and refers to the emblem of a raven painted on the fuselages of the 3rd Air Regiment aircraft fighting in England and France in the interwar period and during World War II. The communists forgot about "Kruk". As a badge, the "Raven" returned in 1976, and was awarded to professional soldiers who particularly distinguished themselves in military service.

3 ELT took over the traditions of the following air units:

2nd Fighter Squadron "Krakowsko-Poznański" was established in France (1918). 2. Greater Poland Aviation Squadron (1919-1920). 3rd Fighter Aviation Regiment "Poznań" (1995-2000). 4. Greater Poland Aviation Squadron (1919-1920). 13th Fighter Squadron (1920-1928). 15th Fighter Squadron (1920-1928). 17th Air Force Command Squadron (the helicopters are directly derived from it) (1957-1999). 62nd Fighter Aviation Regiment (1954-1995). 131st Fighter Squadron (1928-1939). 132nd Squadron Myśliwska (1928-1939). 302nd Fighter Squadron "Poznański" created in England (1940-1947).

3 ELT, from the beginning of its operation (2001), continued to operate MiG-21 MF and MiG-21 R aircraft. The latter were adapted to perform fighter tasks.

MiG-21 MF nb 9113. 2012 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
MiG-21 MF nb 9113. 2012 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

It must be admitted that the division into independent entities in the form of a Fighter Squadron and an Air Base, which functioned well in American troops in Poland, has not worked. He often functioned on the principle of double power and, above all, required close cooperation and good will from both commanders. From the very beginning, soldiers indicated the need to introduce changes, which happened after a few years.

The 3rd ELT unit, from its establishment (December 31, 2000) to October 28, 2002, was commanded by the decision of the Minister of National Defense of February 16, 2001; major diploma pilot Wojciech Krupa.

From June 2001 to July 2002, Krzesiny Airport was closed for the renovation of RWY and the construction of facilities; pilot's house with air traffic control tower and hangars. The works were related to adapting the airport to NATO requirements. At that time, the 3rd ELT unit was transferred to Łask Airport, approximately 200 km away, where, together with the 10th ELT, it performed training flights and was on combat duty for over a year.

On July 12, 2002, the ceremonial opening of the Krzesiny airport took place, after the renovation of RWY, and a flight of MiG-21 aircraft from Łask to Krzesiny took place.

On August 6, 2002, the 3rd ELT received another type of aircraft from the MiG-21 family. This time they were MiG-21 bis planes from the disbanded 9th ELT from Zegrze Pomorskie. It was the latest and last MiG-21 design operated in Poland, with a more efficient and economical engine, better sights and newer weapons. The transfer of all MiG-21 aircraft from the 9th ELT Zegrze Pomorskie to the 3rd ELT Krzesiny lasted from August 2002 to October 2002. Without a doubt, it was a sad period for another Polish combat unit being liquidated. Pilots and technicians from the 9th ELT wrote commemorative slogans on MiG-21 bis planes. For example: "21 Years in the Pomeranian and Koszalin Region", "This is the end of 9 ELT." Commemorative photos were taken. The MiG-21 bis nb 9204 aircraft was based by the commander of the 9th ELT, Major Pilot Leszek Michałowski.

MiG-21 bis nb 9204. 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
MiG-21 bis nb 9204. 2019 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

On September 7-8, 2002, the 3rd ELT took part in the international air show Air Show 2002 in Radom.

From October 28, 2002, the command of the 3rd ELT "Poznań" was taken over by: Maj. Dipl. pilot Rościsław Stepaniuk, graduate of the Higher Officers' Aviation School in 1989. He began his military service in the 62nd PLM.

In March 2003, the 3rd ELT accepted the first TS-11 Iskra aircraft from Siemirowice and Babie Doły. The planes had the inscription NAVY on them. These were the last aircraft of the Navy's Naval Aviation with turbojet propulsion.

TS-11 Iskra nb 1909. 2022 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
TS-11 Iskra nb 1909. 2022 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

From June 2003, the new emblem of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron was in force.

Emblem of the 3rd ELT in force since 2003
Emblem of the 3rd ELT in force since 2003

There is a legend associated with the commemorative badge: While organizing the 131st Fighter Squadron on Poznań Ławica, an adventure happened to the squadron commander. After a successful take-off and circling Poznań, the pilot flew to Lake Kiekrz. A large black raven attacked the plane over the forest. The pilot wanted to avoid a collision with the raven by turning, but he did not make it in time and the raven fell between the struts and wires connecting the plane's wings. The raven died on the spot and its paws got into the gap between the aileron and the plane's wing, making it very difficult to control the plane. However, the pilot managed to bring the plane over the airport, but he was still convinced of the disaster. Being just above the ground, he closed the gas and turned off the engine, covered his eyes, held his head and left himself at the mercy of fate. Meanwhile, instead of crashing, the plane bounced off the grass several times and stopped undamaged. He scared the commander, but he didn't do anything bad to the squadron. Since then, it was decided that the raven would be the emblem of the Poznań fighter squadron. The squadron raven looked menacing, it had a powerful beak open, an aggressive pose, it was ready to attack any enemy. The badge was made by a member of the squadron staff. Colors: black and red plumage, orange beak and paws with claws.

The words of Col. Wacław Król testifying to the meaning of the signs: 'The raven flew throughout the war on the planes of the Poznań Squadron. It was painted on PZL P-11 planes, Hurricanes and Spitfires. Pilots and mechanics wore his badge on their uniforms during campaigns in Poland, France, England and even Africa. Soldiers valued their badge. The soldiers were asked by the English, French, Americans and Canadians, Belgians and Dutch what this badge was (?), and they explained to them, thus teaching foreigners the geography of Poland and mentioning the city of international fairs - Poznań.

On July 5-6, 2003, the 3rd ELT took part in the Military And Air Show 2003 Air Picnic at the Ławica Airport, and on August 30-31, 2003, in the international air show Air Show 2003 at the Radom Airport.

In September 2003, the largest allied air force exercises - "NATO Air Meet 2003" - took place at the airport in Krzesiny.

On December 15-16, 2003, farewell flights took place on the occasion of the end of operation of MiG-21 aircraft in the 3rd ELT. On December 31, 2003, the "Natinads" duty on MiG-21 aircraft ended ceremonially. On New Year's Eve morning, a few minutes after 8:00 a.m., after Mińsk Mazowiecki took over the duty, the pilots and technicians of the 3rd ELT ceremonially ended the "Natinads" duty. It was the final farewell to the MiG-21 in the squadron.

From February 9, 2004, the command of the 3rd Tactical Aviation Squadron "Poznań" was taken over by: Col. pilot Zbigniew Zawada. He started his service in the 11th PLM in Wrocław and was assigned to the 2nd Squadron in Mierzęcice.

Lockheed Martin F-16.

At the beginning of 2003, after the announcement of the results of the tender for the supply of a multi-role aircraft and the designation of the 31st Air Base as the base for the new aircraft, the next stage in the history of the Poznań Krzesiny airport began - the adaptation of the infrastructure and the preparation of personnel of the 31st Air Base for the reception and operation of F-16 planes.

In Krzesiny, the 3rd ELT completed the operation of the MiG-21 PFM in 1998, the MiG-21 MF (2001 - 2002), the MiG-21 M (2001 - December 2003) and the MG-21 bis (2002 - 2004). .) exactly on January 1, 2004, at 08:00, when combat duty ended. At that time (2004), the pilots switched to PZL TS-11 Iskra aircraft to maintain their habits.

On May 10-14, 2004, the pilots of the 3rd ELT had the opportunity to test Hawk training and combat aircraft. The British aviation concern BAE Systems presented this machine on its own initiative, hoping to sell these aircraft to the Republic of Poland.

Since the decision of the authorities of the Republic of Poland to purchase F-16 aircraft had already been made, in the period from July 26, 2004 to August 14, 2004, a group of Polish pilots visited the USA. This group included the commander of the 3rd ELT, Lt. Col. Zbigniew Zawada, who had the opportunity to pilot the T-38 C Talon aircraft at Moody Air Base in Lowndes Country, Georgia.

On September 13-24, 2004, some pilots from the 3rd ELT took part in the Polish-American training of separate components of the Air Force and the 182nd Squadron of the Texas Air National Guard, 149th Flight Wing USAF at the 32nd Air Base in Łask under the code name Sentry White Falcon 2004. The exercises were part of the preparations for the takeover of F-16 aircraft by the Polish Army and the refinement of the principles of cooperation between the air forces of NATO countries.

On October 4, 2004, an order was issued by the commander of the Air Force, pursuant to which, on October 13, 2004, they left for F-16 training in the USA; Lt. Col. Dipl. saw Zbigniew Zawada, and Maj. Dipl. saw Cezary Wiśniewski.

On November 3, 2004, the 3rd ELT received a trophy for the safe implementation of aviation training tasks in 2004. This happened on the basis of the Order of the Air Force Commander of October 28, 2004.

From June 6 to 17, 2005, the 3rd ELT took part in international exercises. Sentry White Falcon 2005.

2006 was a breakthrough year for the 3rd ELT. After many years, the Squadron received new and modern multi-role F-16 C/D Block 52 + aircraft, which received their own name Jastrząb. The Squadron received 16 machines.

F-16 D nb 4076. 2007 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
F-16 D nb 4076. 2007 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

F-16 D nb 4076. 2007 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
F-16 D nb 4076. 2007 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

At the same time, the 6th ELT, also equipped with F-16 aircraft, began to be based at the same Krzesiny Airport. So, since 2006, two tactical aviation squadrons have been based and trained together at Krzesiny Airport. On March 31, 2008, the 3rd ELT together with the 6th ELT were incorporated into the 31st BLotT. The subsequent years of service of the 3rd ELT are recorded in the Chapters on the operation of F-16 aircraft.

Airplanes and helicopters operated in the 3rd ELT:

MiG-21 PFM – until 2002. MiG-21 R (adapted only for fighter tasks) – until 2002. MiG-21 bis in the period 2002–January 1, 2004, until 08:00. MiG-21 UM in the period 2001–December 31, 2003. TS-11 Iskra – until December 31, 2006. PZL An-2 – until 2007. F-16 C/D – from November 2006. Mi-2 helicopters - for search and rescue tasks, in the 3rd ELT subunit - adopted in 2001 and still in use.

Commanders of 3rd ELT;

major diploma pil. Wojciech Krupa – January 1, 2001 – October 28, 2002 major diploma pil. Rościsław Stepaniuk – October 28, 2002 – February 9, 2004 Lt. Col. Dipl. pil. Zbigniew Zawada – February 9, 2004 – October 13, 2004 part-time major diploma pil. Adam Bondaruk – October 13, 2004 – February 25, 2005 part-time captain navigation Mariusz Glazer, M.A. – February 25, 2005 – April 7, 2005 part-time Major Pil. Krzysztof Siarkiewicz, M.A. – April 7, 2005 – October 24, 2005 Lt. Col. Pil. Waldemar Gołębiowski – October 24, 2005 – 30/06/2006 Lt. Col. Dipl. pil. Rościsław Stepaniuk (for the second time) – June 30, 2006 – January 1, 2007 Lt. Col. Dipl. pil. Cezary Wiśniewski – January 1, 2007 – March 31, 2008, when 3 ELT became part of 31 BLotT. Lt. Col. Dipl. pil. Cezary Wiśniewski – 3 ELTs in the 31st BLotT – 17/01/2011. Lt. Col. Pilot Rafał Zadencki – January 17, 2011.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman