Humans of NATO Days

The NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days are the biggest security show in Europe. But it would not be possible to organize such a huge event without a lot of people who dedicate long weeks and months of preparation to it and also without those who then get involved during the final preparations and the weekend..

#HumansofNATODays brings a series of interviews with representatives of various components and participants of the event, giving a glimpse into the functioning of the Czech army, components of the Integrated Rescue System or foreign armed and security forces.

The display of the F-35B Lightning aircraft of the Royal Air Force at the NATO Days in Ostrava & the Czech Air Force Days was the first ever of the variant on the European continent. In the cockpit of the plane sat Tim Flatman, Commander of 207 Squadron based in RAF Marham. The Squadron is the Operational Conversion Unit for UK Lightning which contains a joint workforce of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. 
Commander Tim Flatman has been in the Navy for 26 years, originally wanting to fly helicopters. But how did he get into the armed forces and what does he enjoy most about flying? And what is it like to land an airplane on an aircraft carrier? 

First Lieutenant Ondřej Brázda serves at the 143rd Supply Battalion in Lipník nad Bečvou. Although his unit does not perform a display at the NATO Days, the result of their work can still be seen all around - it is thanks to the army logisticians that the area of the event will grow into the form in which visitors can see it. But how long does it take and how many people are needed for it? If you want to know more about the behind-the-scenes preparations for the biggest security show in Europe, don't miss this interview. 

For seven years he has been involved in the organization of the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days. He is the main coordinator of the activities of the Army of the Czech Republic at the event, and it would be very difficult for the entire event to take place without his contribution. How did he like last year's NATO Days, what exactly does he do at the event and how long does it take to prepare the event? Warrant Officer Milan Procházka from the planning department of the Air Force Command will answer all of these questions.

For Captain Vasileios Ntintis it was his first time in the Czech Republic and at the NATO Days. He was assigned as a T-6A Texan II Instructor Pilot in 2013 and has a flight experience of more than 2,150 hours. How is the training of Greek pilots conducted? How did he like NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days? And what does his ordinary work day look like?

He was part of the B-52 crew when it landed for the first time ever in the Czech Republic to be part of the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days in 2010. And then again, and again, and again. Now he helps to coordinate the US and Canadian efforts at NATO Days and makes sure the crews from those countries have all they need while staying in Ostrava for the event. What does bravery mean to him and who inspires him? Meet David Webb, the North American representative for Jagello 2000.

Lieutenant Colonel Petr Šafařík is the commander of the helicopter squadron of the 24th Air Transportation Base at Prague - Kbely and at the same time the leader of the display team of the W-3A Sokol helicopter. He has over 3,600 flight hours, of which more than 3,200 have been on the Sokol. At the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days, the W-3A Sokol helicopter is shown in full envelope of turns and aerobatics in combination with rescue of people. What does Petr's normal working day look like, and when does he have to push his limits to save a human life?

He is the fifth Czech display pilot of the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft. In 2019, he took part in the Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia and his total flight time is more than 2,000 flight hours, of which he has already flown more than 900 hours on the JAS-39 Gripen. What does his working day look like and what does NATO and courage mean to him? Not only these questions were answered by Captain Ondřej Španko, display pilot of the JAS-39 Gripen aircraft and member of the 211th Tactical Squadron.

The Liberec 31st Regiment of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Protection is the only specialized unit of the Army of the Czech Republic that performs chemical security tasks as well as the most complex tasks of protection against weapons of mass destruction or radioactive and toxic substances. It belongs to the best regiments in the entire North Atlantic Alliance. How did they earn such a position? And what do their actions look like during accidents? Sergeant Milan Kolomazník, a senior scout specialist from Major General Oskar Starkoč's 31st Regiment of Radiological, Chemical and Biological Protection, told us about this at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days.

The Castle Guard is one of the three branches of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. The display performed by its bikers is well known to regular visitors of the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days, and those who do not know it should not miss it. But what tasks do the Castle Guard perform? Besides the President of the Republic, who do they accompany? And how do you recognize a pushy visitor to Prague Castle who wants to provoke a member of staff in the guardhouse? Last year, we interviewed company sergeant major Tomáš Petrik, a member of the motorcycle unit of the Castle Guard, who told us all about it.

No modern army can do without tanks, so they are also an integral part of the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days, where you can see them in both dynamic and static displays. But what is it like to be a tank crew member? What does it all entail? And how much room is there in the tank? Staff Sergeant Martin Strašil, a tank commander from the 73rd Tank Battalion in Přáslavice, answered not only those questions.

If you watched the English stream on Sunday, you could hear him commenting on the Gripen E display. It was his good friend flying. He personally spent 23 years as a member of the Swedish Air Force and is currently a Gripen test pilot. But what was his journey to get there? And how do a test pilot's and a military pilot's jobs differ from one another? Is it dangerous? Jussi Halmetoja, Operations Advisor, Air Domain and test pilot of Gripen E from Saab company answered all of those questions and more.

Military logistics is something that cannot be seen at first glance, but neither army exercises nor events such as NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days can do without it. And securing an event of this scale is definitely not easy. First Lieutenant Pavel Macek from the 141st Supply Battalion in Pardubice told us about what all this entails, as well as what the composition of the logistics support unit looks like. 

Soldiers need to eat too. And who cooks for them? Fellow soldiers. Hundreds of people, soldiers and non-soldiers, need to be fed at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days. Sergeant Helena Mráčková, a senior cook from the 2nd Economic Cooperative of the Logistics Company, 143rd Supply Battalion, took care of the food together with her colleagues. She revealed how the military kitchen works and how cooking for exercises takes place. 

They look for drugs, weapons, cigarettes and tobacco. We are talking about canine colleagues of members of the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic. How long does their training take? What is the easiest to find and what is the reward? And how to get a job as a training cynologist? Where do customs administration dogs come from? These questions were answered by 2Lt. Martin Kobrč, head of the Service Cynology Training Facility of the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic in Heřmanice in Liberecko.

We probably don't need to introduce Colonel Ivo Zelinka at length. It can be said that he is one of the most famous Czech soldiers. At the time of our interview, he was a lieutenant colonel and deputy commander of the 43rd Airborne Regiment in Chrudim. In November 2022, he became an adviser to the Minister of Defense Jana Černochová, which also brought him a promotion to the rank of colonel. Since January 2023, he has been the head of communications of the General Staff and thus one of the main faces of the Army of the Czech Republic.
But what were his beginnings in the army? How is the paratrooper training, what was his most difficult mission and how did he cope with being separated from family? What funny story did he bring back from Afghanistan and what does he say to those who are thinking about a career as a paratrooper? Read on.


Did you know that the Czech Red Cross also belongs to the secondary components of the Integrated Rescue System (IRS)? And those, in turn, are an inherent part of every big event. At the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days they oversee the safety and health of visitors, but also present themselves to the general public. The Red Cross Regional Association – Ostrava is no exception, moreover, visitors of the event are also introduced to the principles of first aid. In an interview, its director Alžběta Hrabovská explained the association's activities and her work.

Germany has a strong presence at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days every year. Whether it's the Air Force, Army, or Navy, visitors have plenty to look at. Last year, the Sea Lynx helicopter was on a static display among other German aircraft. And we interviewed its pilot and at the same time the flight commander of the German Navy, Commander Tom Schneider.

At the NATO Days in Ostrava, you can regularly see K-9 or hippology displays. A service dog or horse is not unusual, but did you know that even birds of prey have their place in the military? First Lieutenant Josef Hromádko from the Military Medical Agency in Hradec Králové, who explained to us the importance of raptors in the army, is a falconer and carries out expert supervision of the biological protection of the airports of the Army of the Czech Republic.

A K-9, an international operation against criminals and a number of confiscated items, including a cigarette production line from Operation Colosseum, you could see all of this at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days in September 2022 thanks to the displays of the Customs Administration of the Czech Republic. Col. M.Sc. Aleš Hrubý is the director of the Search Coordination Department of the General Directorate of Customs and he told us a little more about the activities of the customs administration.

Captain Aleš Svoboda always knew he wanted to become a fighter pilot. He has followed his dream since childhood and is currently fulfilling it at the 21st Tactical Air Force Base as a JAS-39 Gripen pilot. In November 2022, he succeeded in the selection process and became a member of the European Space Agency's reserve team of astronauts, but we did not know this in September.

Major Veronika Kolíbalová Krausová serves as a meteorologist at the Land Forces Command. At last year's NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days, we met her every morning and evening, when she told us what kind of weather we can expect in the next few hours, which is essential for planning the program, especially flight displays. And so we interviewed her a bit. Why she chose meteorology or how is she different from the weather girls on TV?

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