Aerotriga Zlin 526F Trener (1975-81)

The history of this team began in 1975, when four young pilots - Laszlo Toth, Zoltan Varga, Andras Molnar and Andras Veres became instructors at the Aviation Academy at Nyiregyhaza. After work, they improved their personal skills by practicing aerobatics in the two-seat Zlin 526F Trener (Trainer).

In 1975, they began formation flying with four of these aircraft. In 1976, the new team began working on basic aerobatic maneuvers, but after an accident in which the prop of the "slot" aircraft (Andras Veres) cut into the tail wheel of the lead aircraft, they decided that three aircraft would provide a safer formula. By this time they had formed the Hungarian National Aerobatic Team and participated in displays in several socialist countries and also in the European and World Championships using a Zlin 526 AFS.

Hours and hours of training helped them to improve their tight formations and it was not long before they also introduced an inverted "mirror" sequence.

In 1977, Zoltan Varga left the team to join MALEV, the Hungarian National Airlines, and consequently a new pilot, Tibor Paszti, joined the team. As a result, an intensive training program had to start all over again. In September 1977, this revised team finally made their first public appearance during the closing ceremony of the National Aerobatics Championships.

The 1978 season saw the team performing in a similar exciting manner but their displays were limited to audiences at Hungarian events. The director of the Aviation Academy, however, was very impressed and decided to give them both more time and fuel for their practices. After a while, it became clear that the engines of their trusty Treners were not powerful enough for the more spectacular sequences that the pilots wanted to try. Naturally, therefore, it was a great boost to morale, when in October 1981, the MEM Air Service (responsible for the Ministry of Agriculture's aircraft) bought three new Zlin-50LAs. This single-seat, all-metal, aircraft design was the culmination of Zlin's experience in the world of aerobatic aviation.

Early in the following year a long and intensive training course was conducted by Ferenc Hargitai and Gyula Rozmann. The team gave its first display at an international airshow on August 22, 1982 at Spitzenberg in Austria. This site also happened to be the venue for the World Aerobatics Championships, where each of the team's pilots was a competitor as well. The audiences were amazed by the dazzling performance of the Hungarian team.

More invitations followed as a result and, in 1983, the team went to the International Airshow at Friedrichshafen in Germany. By now, the trio was working under the name of "Aerotriga", which in Greek means a three-horse chariot.

In 1984, an invitation arrived to perform at the 10th International Airshow, at Moorsele in Belgium. Moorsele is the home to FLAVIP, a non-profit organization that specializes in promoting light aviation in Flanders. "Aerotriga" eventually came to an agreement with FLAVIP for it to organize a European tour for the team.

During 1985, the team attended airshows in Belgium, France, Holland, Germany, and also made their debut in the UK at the Biggin Hill International Air Fair. At the evening reception for the pilots at Biggin Hill, the "Aerotriga" team received a standing ovation from the RAF "Red Arrows" for their brilliant performance.

In 1986, the team's performances abroad was interrupted for a period, as the Air Service decided to sell their aircraft because of financial difficulties. One aircraft went to Germany and the other two went to South Africa.

On September 01, 1987, Laszlo Toth took a job with MALEV and, after two years, he became a first officer on a Tupolev TU-154. By 1993, he had been promoted to captain. Andras Molnar and Tibor Paszti were still in Nyiregyhaza working for the Air Service but they also began flying L-410 Turbojet 15-seaters for a commuter airline in Budapest.

In spite of difficult circumstances, "Aerotriga" kept itself alive with only limited practices for just a few airshows in Hungary. The team was now flying with aircraft borrowed from the Hungarian Aeronautical Association. These consisted of four Zlin-50 aircraft (one Zlin-50LA with a 260 hp engine and three Zlin-50LS with 300 hp engines).

In 1991, with the dramatically changing internal political situation and climate within Hungary, it was a difficult task for the leader to solve the financial problems of the team. He managed to do so with the help of HAA. "Aerotriga" started its Western-European tour coming to Belgium once again for the Moorsele International Airshow as the Hungarian National Team. Despite having had only minimal training, the three pilots were nevertheless an enormous success. This event also provided the opportunity to renew the agreement with FLAVIP to coordinate and organize follow-on programs for "Aerotriga". At the end of this year, the pilots and a mechanic, Csaba Bakai, along with other aerobatics pilots founded an aeroclub named "Aerotriga" to make the independent operation of this formation team easier.

In 1992, four Zlin 50LS (one as a reserve) were leased from the Hungarian Flight Association. Their first airshow on the aircraft was scheduled for early May in Valenciennes in France and, at the weekend before the event, the team held their only rehearsal in Budapest. Their resulting display in France held the crowds spellbound.

Also in 1992, Aerotriga's close relationship with the national MALEV airline was reflected in a change of team name to the "Aerotriga / Malev" Team. The team took part in a total of 25 airshows during 1992; from ILA Berlin to La Ferte Alais near Paris, as well as other shows in Holland and Belgium. In the UK, the team attended displays at North Weald, Ipswich, Belfast, Newcastle, Bentwaters, and Folkestone. Farnborough's programme was unfortunately already fully booked but the organizers told "Aerotriga", "Don't you worry, your fame is preceding your name. Please keep in touch for 1994"; and they did!

In January 1995, the team suspended their operations as an aero club. Instead, the three pilots and the mechanic founded their own company called the "Aerotriga Limited Partnership". The team continued to take part in major airshows all over Europe including shows at Oostende, Geneve, Berlin, Cannes, La Ferte-Alais, Klagenfurt, Bordeaux, Koksijde, Twente, Dijon, and Liege.

By mid-1996, the two pilots, Andras Molnar and Tibor Paszti, also received employment from MALEV as co-pilots on the Tupolev-154. By the end of 1996, the team had done more than 300 airshows.

1997 marked a landmark in the history of "Aerotriga" as the team celebrated its 20th anniversary.

In October 1998, sadly Andras Molnar, the team's left wing pilot, suffered an accident and was killed. This tragedy shocked the rest of the team and it took some time before a decision was made to resume formation flying in his memory. By the spring of 1999, an intensive training period with a new left wing pilot, Andras Podolcsak, had been completed. The MALEV airline and the Hungarian Flight Association provided help in maintaining the financial support for this training period.

However, not too long afterward, a financial crisis in Hungary developed and giving no possibility of further support to the team and it faded away.

Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999) Aerotriga Zlin 50 (1981-1999)