Hellenic Air Force Aerobatic Team Aces Four

Information from the Aces Four web site courtesy of Filaos Dimitrios.
Used by permission.

The First Hellenic Airforce Acroteam: "Aces Four"

In the early 1950s, the Hellenic Air Forced was doing a Quantum Leap, entering in the jet Era. During those times all resources, men, machines, money, were devoted to the achievement of this goal. Conversion to jets had a lot of casualties, more than 100 airmen losted their lives trying to learn the new technology. So, early on, there was not an idea to have the luxury of an acroteam. In the Spring of 1952, the USAF's acroteam Sky Blazers performed a display over Elefsis airport. The team was flying F-84G jets and the display was exciting. This display was the inspiration for Lieutenant Colonel Kokas, Commander of 337 Pursuit/Bombing Sqn, to establish an acroteam. He contacted the Sky Blazer's crews but he was disappointed when he learned the official procedures he had to follow and the moneys an acroteam was costing. Kokas understood that there was no way to get an official approval for his acroteam, so he took the daring decision to start the acroteam in secrecy. He selected three experienced pilots from his Sqn and started practising over the lake of Karla, Thessalia. The team followed instructions and manoeuvres that Kokas was given by the Sky Blazers and was progressing very well.
At some point, the Air Force learned about the 'secret' acroteam and possed a penalty to the leader, Kokas. But when the team gave an excellent display in front of Defense Minister Mr. Kanellopoulos, the Air Force accepted the team, under the name Acess Four, Kokas was cleared and the team had at last official support and 110 Wing, Larisa, as base. Now, it could concetrate on their display. At first, the display was the same as Sky Blazer's routine, but soon new manoeuvres were added, such as the tight turn combined with Imelman. In 1954 Field Marshal Tito decorated the team with the Superior Jugoslavian Medal. When Kokas left the team, Stilianakis became the new leader. In 1956 the team moved to Elefsis airport, and during this year the team gave the first display outside Greece, in Milano, Italy at an Acroteams Meeting. In 1957 some modifications were made to the display, so that taking-off and landing were done in formation, and in manoeuvres there was a minimum separation of only one meter. Also, the team was doing passes at extremely low altitude over the spectators.
In 1957 the Air Force decided to replace the F-84G Thunderjets with the Canadair CL-13A Sabre Mk.2. And that was the end for the Aces Four.

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The very first acroteam. From left, Papadimitropoulos, Kokas, Damaskos. Front, Stilianakis.

Starting a loop. Pilots are Kokas, Damaskos, Papadimitropoulos, and Stilianakis.

An F-84G painted in the acroteam's colours.

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The second acroteam's leader, Stilianakis in the cockpit of his F-84G.

Practising over Salamina island. Leader is Stilianakis, followed by Firfilionis.

An F-84G restored to the color scheme of Acess Four Acroteam. H.A.F. Museum, Tatoi Air Base.

See Home/Links/Misc. Aircraft for a link to a site about Aces Four.

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