The town of Zadar on 20 January 2017 hosted the ceremonies marking the 24th anniversary…
2004 – Display Team’s First Public Appearance
23rd July, Zadar. The prospective Croatian Air Force aerobatic team’s first public display in a formation of four Pilatus PC-9M aircraft. The historic flight at the opening ceremony of the Junior European Sailing Championship featured Miroslav Franjić as the team leader, Damir Barišić as the 1st left wing, Diana Doboš as the 1st right wing and Saša Joković as the slot.
Diana Doboš was also only the third woman in world history to fly in an aerobatic display team.
2005 – Official Presentation and First Appearance as “Wings of Storm”
5th August, Knin. The official presentation of the Croatian Air Force’s aerobatic team and the first display under the name “Wings of Storm” at the ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the Homeland War’s (1991-95) Operation Storm. The same team from the previous year flew on Pilatus PC-9M aircraft above Knin Fortress.
That autumn, a fifth member was introduced and a five-aircraft formation debuted on 15th October in Knin.
2006 – First International Performance
29-30 July, Constanţa, Romania. The first international performance at the Romanian International Air Show (RoIAS) 2006, where the team performed a display in a five-aircraft formation on Pilatus PC-9M aircraft.
2007 – At the Top of World Aerobatics
“Wings of Storm” added tall slide to their programme, the first of many demanding and rare manoeuvres for which the team are known internationally.
2008 – Visual Identity of “Wings of Storm”
In August 2008, the “Wings of Storm” began to perform with helmets specifically designed for them by Silvano Mainini and the Old Crow Team. On 12th December, the team debuted their red overalls at the ceremony marking Croatian Air Force Day in Zemunik.
For the first time since the team’s formation, the leadership of the “Wings of Storm” changed as Damir Barišić took over as group leader from Miroslav Franjić in September 2008.
2008 was also remembered for eight displays outside of the Republic of Croatia, which is the largest number of the team’s international displays in a single year to date.
2009 – Displays in Six-Piece Formation on Pilatus PC-9M Aircraft
On 25th March, the sixth member was initiated into the “Wings of Storm” and the team began flying in a six-piece formation on Pilatus PC-9M aircraft.
That year, the team debuted their best known and most attractive manoeuvre – the triple mirror a.k.a. dia.
2010 – Display in Front of Half a Million Spectators
11-12 September, Rivolto, Italy. The “Wings of Storm” performed a display in front of 500,000 spectators – their largest audience to date. They presented their programme at an air show on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Italian Air Force’s aerobatic demonstration team “Frecce Tricolori” (“Three-Coloured Arrows”).
2011 – First Display Outside Europe
4-5 June, İzmir, Turkey. The “Wings of Storm” performed outside Europe for the first time, at a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Turkish Air Force. The performance was viewed by more than 60 air force commanders from all over the world.
2012 – First International Prizes
10th June, Aalborg Air Base, Denmark. The “Wings of Storm” won their first international prize for the best display at an air show in the north of Denmark – the northernmost location of their performances to date. Furthermore, the team also won an award for the best display at the Czech International Air Fest (CIAF), which makes 2012 their most award-winning season to date.
In September 2012, Matija Vrđuka took over as team leader from Damir Barišić.
2013 – Zadar City Award
The “Wings of Storm” Display Team received the Zadar City Award for their exceptional contribution to the promotion of Zadar at the city council’s formal session on the occasion of Zadar City Day and the feast of Saint Chrysogonus, the city’s patron saint (24th November).
2014 – 100th Official Display by “Wings of Storm”
The “Wings of Storm” performed their jubilean 100th display in the north Adriatic town of Rovinj on 13th April.
2015 – Reaching New Heights with Young, New Line-Up
After the departure of the previous line-up, Damir Barišić took over the leadership of the display team once more and the “Wings of Storm” began to perform in a new, significantly younger line-up.
2016 – Greatest Recognition for “Wings of Storm”
9-10 July, Fairford, United Kingdom, Royal International Air Tattoo. Prince Faisal bin Hussein of Jordan presented the “Wings of Storm” with the King Hussein Memorial Sword, the most prestigious award at the air show, which they won for the best overall demonstration.
RIAT has been held since 1971 and is considered to be the most prestigious military air show in the world. Its 2003 edition was recognized by Guinness World Records as the largest ever military air show, with 535 aircraft in attendance. Six awards are given out and the main award is named in honour of the late King Hussein of Jordan, a long-time sponsor of the manifestation.
2017 – Collaboration with World’s Most Renowned Aerobatic Display Teams
In 2017, the “Wings of Storm” initiated collaboration with aerobatic teams “Frecce Tricolori” (ITA) and “Red Arrows” (UK). Since then, the teams have been mutually visiting each other and training jointly every year.
The current Team Leader Darko Belančić took over the post from Damir Barišić in March 2017. Later that year, the team won an award for the most precise display at an air show in Slovakia.
2018 – 50th International Performance
25-26 August, Radom, Poland. The “Wings of Storm” performed their 50th international display at the Radom Air Show.
2018 is also remembered for record-breaking 25 displays in a single season, five of which took place outside Croatia.
2019 – Order of Croatian Braid
Former and current members of the display team – Lt. Col. Miroslav Franjić, Lt. Col. Damir Barišić, Maj. Diana Doboš, Maj. Ivan Anđić, Maj. Zvonimir Mravunac, Capt. Darko Belančić, Capt. Goran Grgić, 2nd Lt. Denis Živaljić and 2nd Lt. Ivan Rendulić – were decorated with the Order of Croatian Braid for their exceptional contribution to the presentation of the Croatian Air Force’s and Croatian Armed Forces’ capabilities as well as the successful presentation of Croatia abroad.
“The Wings of Storm” have performed 196 displays so far (143 in Croatia and 53 abroad). They have presented their programme at the most prestigious air shows in 15 countries (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom).
All Pilots of “Wings of Storm”
KO 001 Miroslav Franjić, 2004-2008; 35 displays (35 as team leader)
KO 002 Damir Barišić, 2004-2012 and 2015-2017; 123 displays (86 as team leader)
KO 003 Diana Doboš, 2004-2007; 24 displays
KO 004 Saša Joković, 2004-2006; six displays
KO 005 Matija Vrđuka, 2005-2015; 103 displays (20 as team leader)
KO 006 Nenad Hasnek, 2006-2014; 98 displays
KO 007 Edvard Krišto, 2007-2015; 79 displays
KO 008 Božen Tadić, 2008-2015; 67 displays
KO 009 Siniša Hucika, 2009-2015; 63 displays
KO 010 Josip Čolak, 2012-2015; 20 displays
KO 011 Ivan Anđić, since 2015; 91 displays
KO 012 Darko Belančić; since 2015; 84 displays (55 as team leader)
KO 013 Denis Živaljić, since 2015; 85 displays
KO 014 Goran Grgić, since 2015; 84 displays
KO 015 Zvonimir Mravunac, since 2015; 64 displays
KO 016 Ivan Rendulić, 2016-2018; 26 displays
KO 017 Marko Novković, since 2019; seven displays
Text by MARINKO KARAČIĆ
Photo by “WINGS OF STORM” PHOTO ARCHIVE
Translation by IVA GUGO