AIRSHOW GUIDE: GDYNIA
AIRSHOW GUIDE: GDYNIA AEROBALTIC
GUIDE BY ADAM LANDAU | PHOTOS BY ALEX PRINS
The Gdynia AeroBaltic Airshow is one of the fastest-growing airshows in Europe, already among Poland’s most prestigious aviation events just a few years after the event was conceived. Starting life as a mid-sized seaside show, the event is often split into two sections: a major international airshow at Gdynia Kosakowo Airport and a popular free night display at Gdynia City Beach. Aeropact, the event’s organisers, have a good track record in delivering high-quality airshows, and strong relationships with some unusual air arms. This meant that the 2019 show featured such acts as the Saudi Hawks, Polish Su-22 and Ukrainian Su-27, and the 2021 show is due to feature the Red Arrows, Midnight Hawks, French Rafale C and SoloTurk.
Note that Gdynia Aerobaltic should not be confused with open day events held at the same airfield by the Polish military.
|Friday||All day||Display practices||Gdynia Kosakowo Airport|
|Friday*||18:30-22:30||Night air display||Gdynia City Beach|
|Saturday||10:30-16:30||Air display||Gdynia Kosakowo Airport|
|Saturday*||18:30-22:30||Night air display||Gdynia City Beach|
|Sunday||10:30-16:30||Air display||Gdynia Kosakowo Airport|
*The night show is not due to be held in 2021.
Several ticket options are available for the main airshow at Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport. Earlybird prices start at a very reasonable 35zł for a single adult ticket (about £6.50, €7.50 or $9), 25zł for children under 15, or 60zł for a family ticket. Regular tickets are 40zł per adult, 30zł per child or 70zł per family. There is an additional parking charge of 15zł (about £3, €3 or $4) per vehicle.
Alternatively, several more expensive packages are available. VIP tickets begin at 350zł and can cost as much as 40,000zł. A spotters pass for the week costs 300zł (about £55, €65 or $75). This will get you access to the spotter area at the airport on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which consists of a small raised platform on the corner of the crowdline and the main jet pan. When a night show is held at Gdynia City Beach, it permits access to a similar enclosure there, too.
The secondary airshow at Gdynia City Beach is free and is not ticketed, with the exception of the spotter zone. Standalone spotter tickets solely for this part of the airshow are not available.
The main international airshow is held at Gdynia Kosakowo Airport. The showground is small and compact, but relatively deep, and around half of the crowdline is taken up by hospitality enclosures. Although crowdline space is, therefore, extremely limited, a 200 foot altitude minima ensures that the displays can be enjoyed without being at the front.
The optimal spot for enjoying the displays for standard ticket holders is at show centre, which is the most northwesterly point of the crowdline that is accessible to the public (just to the right of the aircrew test). The spotters enclosure is at the far southeasterly end of the crowdline. This is still not far from show centre, but offers the added bonus of being able to see parts of the jet pan.
The night portion of the show is held at Gdynia City Beach. Here, there are three potential viewing areas. The tip of South Pier is the closest that it is possible to get to the action, but as it offers a view looking down the display line, displays can look a little odd from here. Gdynia City Beach itself (between the stage and the drop zone) is considered to be display centre, and the performances, and any intergration with pontoon-launched pyro, look best from here. However, the action is a little further away due to the shape of the coast, and the area is extremely overcrowded. The promenade just south of the beach, near to the Spotter Zone, offers a similar view to the beach itself, but with a sparser crowd.
Because of the distance between the two venues, and the short time between the day and night displays, it certainly isn’t easy to attend both shows in full on any one day without a good deal of planning and luck. By running two parallel shows, Gdynia AeroBaltic have found themselves an imaginative business model, which allows them to cater both to the general public, with a popular, free event at the waterfront, and to aviation enthusiasts, with a good-value international airshow with a long and varied flying display. This is a model to be celebrated, but it does bring additional complications for those who want to fully experience both sides of the event. Visitors unfortunately have to accept that it may not be possible to see everything, but Gdynia AeroBaltic should still offer a full and rewarding airshow experience regardless of this fact.
The closest major airport to Gdynia is Gdansk, about ten miles away. Depending on time of day. Gdansk is served by many of Europe’s major low cost carriers, primarily Wizzair and Ryanair. It is linked by bus to the city centre and hire cars are available.
The airshow is easily reached by car, but beware of traffic congestion on the small tracks leading into the airport.
Traffic around Gdynia City Beach is extremely heavy during the night airshow and parking is very limited. This means that a car is not an ideal way to get to the night show, with most spectators appearing to arrive on foot. As a result, it is practically impossible to watch the full airshow at Gdynia Kosakowo Airport and the night airshow at Gdynia City Beach on the same day.
BY PRIVATE HIRE VEHICLE:
Although not advised for getting to and from the airport, it is possible to use a taxi to get from Gdansk to Gdynia city centre or to the railway station. This journey cost us between 90zł and 180zł depending on the time of day, and took around half an hour.
BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT:
Gdynia has a major train station with frequent, fast services to Gdansk and other cities. The airshow runs a shuttle bus from the station to the airport on Saturday and Sunday. The bus leaves at 09:15 for the airport and returns at 18:00. The station is a 20 minute walk from Gdynia City Beach, meaning it would be possible to watch some of the night flying displays after the main airshow, but it would be very unlikely visitors would arrive at the beach in time to catch the first few acts. Our reviewers have not used the shuttle bus service and cannot comment on its reliability.
As the second largest city in its region, there are plenty of hotel options in Gdynia for a range or prices. This includes a number of options within walking distance of the Gdynia City Beach show site, the largest being the Courtyard Gdynia Waterfront. There are no major hotels within walking distance of Gdynia-Kosakowo Airport, although there are a number of low-cost options within a 20 minute drive.
Those who wish to stay on the airport can do so at the show’s official campsite, AeroCamp. Camping is available from Friday morning until Monday morning. Pitches start at 110zł (£22 or $28) for one adult for one night or 170zł for the entire show, with children aged 3-12 being charged half-price. An additional 199zł (£40 or $50) is charged to hire a tent from the organisers. Space for a caravan or motorhome for the entire show, with electricity supply, costs 250zł for up to two people and 50zł for each additional camper thereafter. AeroCamp includes toilets, showers, a covered seating and cooking area and free parking, with access through the VIP entry gate. Our reviewers have not sampled the AeroCamp option, but the campsite appeared to be quite empty for the duration of the 2019 airshow.
Arrivals generally begin on the Wednesday before the show and ramp up on Thursday and Friday. A number of practice displays are also held. Arrivals, practices and rehearsals can be viewed from AeroCamp patrons while the campsite is open (Friday morning to Monday morning) but otherwise, the only organised access to the airfield is for accredited spotters on Friday. Timings are arranged by Aeropact and spotters are escorted by a member of staff. For those who are not accredited spotters, there are a number of local roads around the airfield perimiter, including roads passing both thresholds of the main runway.