FOR KING AND COUNTRY (21st July parade)

When the Belgian national soccer team or an individual athlete appears in the finals of an international tournament, quite a lot of compatriots get a feeling of national pride and show it openly. Spectators watching the military parade pass in front of the royal palace on the Belgian National Holiday without doubt get the same feeling, albeit somewhat less overt. Whether they are proponents of the royal house and the military or not, they are all impressed by the beauty of marching troops and by the sheer power radiated by modern military equipment. This is even more so for the flypast of the military aircraft roaring low over Brussels that day. Like clockwork, tiny trainers and large transport aircraft, slow helicopters and fast jets follow each other in rapid succession at regular intervals as if it were the easiest thing in the world to do. 


To show how complex it is to make arrive formations of slowly moving helicopters or training aircraft and of fast combat jets or transport aircraft at the right moment, in the right order and with the right interval over the city centre, the Belgian Air Component every now and then invites journalists to participate in the flypast to witness themselves how an apparent mix-up of aircraft arriving from different directions and overtaking each other finally close up the ranks nicely overhead the royal palace. This year, the Air Component invited not only journalists, but also some average citizens, for whom a seat was reserved in a Lockheed C-130H Hercules transport aircraft or an Embraer ERJ-135/145 regional jet of the 15th Transport Wing at Melsbroek Airbase. Some of the lucky ones participated in the Fly to your Dream event held earlier this year at Florennes Airbase, others won a seat in a competition organised by a local newspaper or television network. The Air Component also rewarded a number of deserving volunteers who have been working for many years in the local Dakota Museum and strengthened the ties with some of the staff members of the nearby Belgocontrol air traffic control service.






Home base

1 x 6

Dassault-Breguet/Dornier Alpha Jet 1B

AJeTS, Tours, France

3 x 6

SIAI Marchetti SF.260M/D

1 Wing, Beauvechain

2 x 4

Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon

10 WTAC, Kleine-Brogel

2 x 4

Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon

2 WTAC, Florennes



Westland Seaking Mk.48

Sud Aviation SA.316B Alouette III

40 Sqn, Koksijde

Navy Flight, Koksijde

2 x 3

Agusta A.109BA Hirundo

Wing Heli, Bierset

1 x 3

Lockheed C-130H Hercules

15 Wing Tpt, Melsbroek



Embraer ERJ.135

Embraer ERJ.145

15 Wing Tpt, Melsbroek


Dassault Falcon 20E-5

15 Wing Tpt, Melsbroek



Safety Briefing 

When flying with the Air Component, “Safety First” serves as the most important motto. In a civil airliner, a safety briefing is given prior to take-off in the aircraft itself. In a noisy military cargo aircraft, the briefing usually takes place outside the aircraft. In this case it was given in the AML airport building by the Adjutant loadmasters “Frozen Meal” Verley and “Mumu” Mulders. While in passenger aircraft oxygen masks automatically drop from the overhead luggage bins or from the cabin ceiling when needed, they are replaced by Emergency Passenger Oxygen Systems (EPOS) in transport aircraft. These individual hoods, containing a small oxygen bottle, can be found everywhere in the cargo hull of a Hercules transport aircraft (inset).

Agusta A109AB Wescam

 Air-to-air images of the flypast are made by an L-3 Communications WESCAM airborne imaging ball turret carried by an Agusta A.109BA Hirundo of the Wing Heli. H29 was of service this year and is seen here landing at Melsbroek Airbase for a final check-up and cleaning of the system.

White Fleet

 No. 21 Squadron of the 15th Transport Wing participated in the flypast with Dassault Falcon 20E-5 CM-02, Embraer ERJ.135 CE-01 and Embraer ERJ.145 CE-03.


 As planned, the three Hercules aircraft of No. 20 Squadron flew over the royal palace at exactly 16h18:40 local time at an altitude of 1,200 feet AMSL.


 Only a few minutes later, the formation performed a flypast over Beauvechain Airbase, where the 40th anniversary of the introduction of the SIAI Marchetti SF.260M in Belgian Air Force service was celebrated with an open door. The three C-130Hs that participated in the National Holiday flypast 2009 were CH-04 (call sign Herky 21), CH-10 (Herky 22) and CH-07 (Herky 23).


Professionals at work: flying in close formation at low altitude during light bumpy weather requires full concentration of the entire crew.


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 © Jos Schoofs (July 2009)


Last updated 31/07/09 09:16   Daniel Brackx