Author Sasa Ristic
This story started with the first signs of the spring 2007. Something interesting happened on the grass covered airfield Cenej near Novi Sad, Serbia. Group of flying enthusiasts decided not to let old Galebs (G-2) go to history. Agreement was reached, they were going to completely check and paint 4 Galebs. These aircraft were flown in Yugoslav Air Force for training purpose till 1999, and after that they were sent to Air Museum in Belgrade.
They decided to do something that has never been existed in this region before - civilian aerobatic team on jet planes.
Huge job was put in front of highly experienced mechanics Milenko Radenković, Arpad Nemet and Ivan Miškeljin… But they succeeded. One by one fresh painted blue- red-white Galeb's with star on the belly leaved the hangar.
There was another question left in the air. Who were going to fly those beauties?
Director of aeroclub G-4 Novi Sad and now PR of aerobatic team Mr. Novak Novaković said that there was an only one solutions – pilot's members of the former Yugoslav Air Force aerobatic team "Flying Stars"- Saša Ristić, Dragan Zlokas, Saša Grubač and Ištvan Kanas. All of them are still active military pilots, but as they are also flying enthusiasts, they accepted the challenge. STARS aerobatic display team was born!!!
On the 10th of April 2007, the first aircraft started to fly. Wheel began to roll. Pilots were coming to prepare whenever it was possible (2 from Novi Sad, 2 from Belgrade). The schedule was tight, first public display was just to be held.
Stars did their first official display on the 3rd of June 2007, in Čenej Airshow 2007, organized by aeroclub Galeb G-4 Novi Sad. Soon after that many invitations arrived to Stars HQ. Stars took part in airshows in Slovenia (Airborne 2007), Czech Republic (CIAF2007), Hungary (Repulonap 2007), Croatia (Rijeka 2007, Čakovec 2007), Lybia (Lavex 2007), and also in opening ceremony of music festival EXIT 2007.
Apart from 4 Galebs, Beechcraft Duke flown by Dragan Živković and Novak Novaković, was Stars' support aircraft.
Before every display, final preparation was held by Stars pilots, and after each flight they analyzed what could be better, more interesting and more precision in the next flight.
At the end of the 2007 season, it was decided to expand team by one more aircraft. The fifth plane was bought by the end of 2007, during the winter it was completely checked and by the end of April it has been painted in the colors of the team. The new member of the team is Tomislav Becagovic, also member of the former "Flying Stars", the second right wingman and the opposing solo.
Compared with the formation of four, formation of five aircraft gives much more possibilities, so the flying program of the team is significantly improved. During the first third of the program the team flies together shifting several new formations (swallow, dragon, swan, eagle), then the team splits up in 3+2 formation and by the end of the program the synchro pair also splits up and the team becomes 3+1+1 formation. The greatest improvement in the program is provided by the synchro pair which has several attractive entries, such as "mirror" formation, "roulette" and synchronized tail slide with two aircraft.
The team promoted its new appearance and new program at the international air show "Cenej 2008" on 1st of June, near the Novi Sad, the team's home base. The quality of that display proved that the team is ready for the oncoming season.
The Stars' last display was on 13th September 2009 at the Batajnica airshow, Serbia. The team is temporary suspended due to financial reasons and wait for a better time. Hope this happens soon!
All of Stars pilots are active military pilots, flying in Flight Test Department of Technical Test Centre in Belgrade, Serbia. They are also members of former aerobatic team "Flying Stars" of Yugoslav Air Force.
Saša Ristić, Star 1, nickname Sale, 45 years old, 2200 flying hours. In leisure time plays solo guitar and rides a bike. In 1999 he formed a music band, together with Grubač and Bećagović, and they used to play for their own pleasure. Soon after their first public performance, the band has split. He is the leader of Stars.
Dragan Zlokas, Star 2, nickname Yaki, 45 years old, 1600 flying hours. From his childhood till now, he has made flying models and flies them in his leisure time. Every time his model crashes, he has sleepless nights. He is the 1st left wingman and leader of sinchro pair.
Saša Grubač, Star 3, nickname Grubi, 40 years old, 1200 flying hours. He likes to ride a bike and to listen to the music. Adores Led Zeppelin. Also likes to do nothing in leisure time. He is the 1st right wingman.
Ištvan Kanas, Star 4, nickname Pile, 2300 flying hours. He died in the air-crash accident in 2008. He was the 2nd left wingman.
Tomislav Bećagović, Star 5, nickname Bećaga, 45 years old, 2200 flying hours. He is mad about inverted flying and likes to talk about male-female relationship. He is the 2nd right wingman and opposing solo.
Novak Novaković, Director and PR 55 years with more than 4800 flying hours. After retirement in 2002 he chooses to have flying as a hoby. When not working with the team, he runs a pilot school, flies as flight examiner and also as a taxi-pilot.