Belgian display pilots demonstrate the capabilities of their helicopters and aircraft not only at home, but also abroad. When displays in front of one’s own public mainly aim at attracting young people to join the exiting world of military aviation, displays abroad are excellent means to show the flag and to prove that one’s servicemen and -women, their training and their equipment are of international standards. The results achieved by these efforts, however, somtimes vary considerably.
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BAD LUCK AT EVREUX
The Belgian Air Component delegated a SIAI Marchetti SF.260D, its last Fouga CM.170R Magister and a pair of nicely decorated Lockheed-Martin F-16AMs to the Meeting aérien at Base aérienne 105 at Evreux, France, on 8 July 2007. A pictorial impression.
SIAI Marchetti SF.260D ST-46 was put in the civil sports aircraft static park. A nice spot, close to one of the main entrances, which made that the aircraft was seen by many thousands of spectators. It was fun, however, to see the poor puzzled young guy, charged with making an inventory of the aircraft present, looking for the registration number of the aircraft starting with F-.
The pair of Belgian F-16s was nicely parked in front of the VIP village.
The first victim of the long Evreux downpour was the civilian owned Fouga Magister F-AZZE. Halfway his display, the pilot had to break off the presentation because of a too low ceiling. The next item on the programme, the French Mirage 2000 solo display, was cancelled for the same reason.
Next came Commandant Michaël Mickey Artiges and his F-16AM. The look on Mickey’s face when seeing the menacing clouds coming in from the northwest was a sign for what was to come: cancellation of his display, as well as of the planned formation flight with MT-35. That saddened even the French, as with the years they learned to appreciate the dazzling presentation of a great (French) aircraft by a magnificent Belgian pilot!
When visibility and ceiling finally improved, it was the Thunderbirds’ turn to fly their display. With a little bit of luck, this nice shot could have been one of a Belgian F-16.
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GOOD LUCK AT FAIRFORD
After a complete absence in 2006, Belgium was well represented at the 2007 edition of the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, United Kingdom, during the weekend of 14 and 15 July: a SIAI Marchetti SF.260D in the static park and a Lockheed-Martin F-16AM and Westland Sea King Mk. 48 in the flying display.
SIAI Marchetti SF.260D ST-48 was appropriately parked between a number of other primary training aircraft, in front of the well-known Fairford control tower.
Mickey Artiges was one of the show openers at Fairford on 14 July, only preceded by a Finnish Hornet and a Czech Hind.
Much appreciated by the public: the Belgian solo display F-16 launching a burst of flares. The only time this was allowed in Belgium was during the princely visit to Beauvechain Air Base in 2006 on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Belgian Air Force.
The crew of Sea King RS-02 salute the numerous public after its high noon SAR display.
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Text and pictures by
© Jos Schoofs (July 2007)
Last updated 06/08/07 16:46 Daniel Brackx