Team “Orlik”

This team was formed at Air Force Officers` College Commanding Officer order on 1-st January 1998. In March 1998 pilots started flying training and they were ready to present their performance on 15-th April 1998. The first public display took place at Fairford during the Air Tattoo and the performance was recognized by the spectators in enthusiastic way.
The name “Orlik” comes (like in the “Iskry” case) from the name of the aircraft
PZL-130 Orlik used in the regiment and the team as well.
Between 1998 and 2000 both “Iskry” and “Orlik” teams were based at Radom-Sadkow. After the “Iskry” team reorganization the “Orlik” continues the Radom’s aerobatic tradition.
During the Air Show `98 at Deblin pilots from both the team and the 60-th Regiment presented 21 aircraft formation flying in the number 80 shape tight formation.
team members are volunteers and they represent the 2-nd Basic Flying Training Centre from Radom.
All pilots fly together from the beginning but the team had three different events coordinators. The first one was Lt.Col Ireneusz Fibinger who was replaced in the next year by Lt.Col. Zbigniew Blechacz (former “Iskry” team commander). At the moment the team’s event coordinator is Col. Marek Bylinka (2-nd Training Centre Commander).
Last two years are very successful. In 1999 “Orlik” team participated in air shows in Slovakia and Lithuania, where it has been awarded the best aerobatic team. Moreover the team displayed at Fairford once again.
The team success made big impression on the Polish Air Force Commander who has awarded team members with “Ikar” statue.
In the year 2000 team was invited to two most important events which took place at Dijon (International Aerobatic Teams Fly-in) and in Biggin Hill (The Battle of Britain 50-th anniversary air show). After the display at Biggin Hill team was invited by the British authorities to perform at Plymouth.
The ‘2001 season “Orlik” has begun with increasing the team members number from 5 to 7. Unfortunately it became clear that the slot – Lt.Col. Andrzej Sowa, due to his health problems, will not be able to perform during this season and the rest of the team have to look for another one pilot. Finally he was replaced by Lieutenant Dariusz Stachurski. The two new pilots, outer wingmen, were chosen because of their skills and abilities to perform team aerobatic.
From `2003 season the “Orlik” team was enlarged to 9 ship diamond formation.

Development and design

The Orlik was designed by PZL Warszawa-Okecie as a trainer for the Polish Air Force, intended as a replacement for its PZL-110 Kolibers. It was also designed to meet the American FAR 23 standard. The project was under the supervision of Andrzej Frydrychewicz, head engineer of PZL Warszawa-Okecie. It was fitted with a low-aspect ratio wing to better simulate the handling characteristics of jet fighters. The aircraft was designed to be powered by a Soviet-designed and built Vedeneyev M14Pm radial engine with the intention of replacing it by a modified Polish built Ivchenko AI-14 engine in production aircraft. The first prototype Orlik flew on 12 October 1984, with a second prototype following in December and a third in January 1985.

While the Polish Air Force planned to power its Orliks with locally produced radial engines, PZL planned a turboprop powered version, the PZL-130T Turbo Orlik for export purposes.The third prototype was therefore re-fitted with a 410 kW (550 shp) Pratt & Whitney PT6A-25P turboprop, flying in this form on 13 July 1986, but was destroyed in a crash in January 1987 while being demonstrated to a representative of the Colombian Air Force. Two further turboprop prototypes followed in 1989 and 1990, powered by a Czech-built 560 kW (750 shp) Walter M-601E and a PT6A-25 as the PZL-130TB and PZL-130TP respectively.

In 1990, development of the piston-engined Orlik was abandoned, as the Polish built radial engines gave insufficient power, with Polish interest switching to the M-601 powered PZL-130TB.

Operational history

Deliveries of PZL-130TBs to the Polish started in 1994, with the aircraft equipping the Military Pilot Academy at Dęblin and the 60th Training Air Regiment at Radom. All of Poland’s PZL-130TBs were upgraded to TC-1 standard, with better ejection seats and avionics