A recent Live Socially Distant Air Show hosted by Live Air Show TV brought together a mash-up of all the memorable air show moments from 2019, of which Czech Gripen's performance with Extra 300SR was also featured. The performance of Ivo Kardos and Martin Šonka, who piloted these planes, has remained in the hearts of people who attended the NATO Days at Ostrava in September last year.
“When we started planning it, we were able to convince people that it would be something very interesting to see,” Martin Šonka, 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Champion, told Redbull.com at an interview last year. True to his words, their performance was nothing short of a jaw-dropping sight.
One of the tricky things to achieve was balancing the speed differentiation between the supersonic Gripen fighter and the propeller Extra 300SR aircraft. According to Šonka, Gripen was able to fly exceptionally well even at a speed of 400kph, which is actually a very low speed for the fighter aircraft. The two flew in close formation executing barrel rolls, inverted mirror flights, Immelmann turns, flare release, and many more at a low speed. It was like nothing anyone had seen before. “We were really happy to be able to take sharp and difficult turns. With Gripen at maximum power without the afterburner, I was able to hold vertical position in the formation. It was just amazing,” Šonka said.
Being a former Gripen pilot himself, Martin Šonka was aware of the fighter's capability. Martin Šonka’s familiarity with both Gripen and Ivo Kardoš ultimately helped in the execution of the display. “I was always very close to Gripen, I missed the view of having it flying a few metres away from me. And now, being in the air again with one next to me made me very happy,” Šonka added.
The show was a 3-day fundraiser event which was streamed live on YouTube. Watch the show here.