|Golden Falcon Movements|
A visit to the museum of the 1 Wing Historical Centre at Beauvechain Air Base is never a boring event. The collection of memorabilia, ground equipment and aircraft is continuously improving and expanding: wrecks are restored and become valuable relics and new aircraft are added to the collection on a regular basis.
The most recent additions to the aircraft collection are a Stampe & Vertongen SV.4B and a Lockheed-Martin F-16A. One of the Hunter wrecks has been restored to static display conditions, as could be witnessed during the Defence Days at Beauvechain Air Base in September 2006. This aircraft will soon leave the museum.
Stampe & Vertongen SV.4B V64 (c/n 1206, frame number 200.64) was loaned by the Brussels Air Museum to the 1 Wing Historical Centre and arrived at Beauvechain on 24 April 2007. The aircraft has since been reassembled and is now on display with a cut away instructional model of a 155 hp Cirrus Major Series 3 engine. This type of engine, manufactured by Blackburn Aircraft Ltd in Brough, powered 41 of the type, including V64, while the remaining 24 had a 140 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major engine
V64 was delivered to the Aircraft Park of the Belgian Air Force at Wevelgem on 29 June 1955. Exactly three months later it was transferred to the Elementary Flying School at Goetsenhoven. As a basic flying training aircraft, it often had to endure rough handling by student-pilots. On 25 June 1962, it suffered category 4 damage when a student pilot stalled it during landing. On 28 July 1965, the aircraft was involved a second time in a heavy landing accident, causing category 2 damage. When V64 was struck of charge on 10 August 1970, it had amassed 3263:35 flying hours. The following day, it was transported to the Brussels Air Museum. V64 was one of five aircraft of the type flown by the famous display team Les Manchots, which was established in 1965. It still carries this black and yellow livery, which was applied over the training aircraft orange, as can be seen on the photograph of the aircraft being assembled.
Lockheed-Martin F-16A FA-18 (c/n 6H-18, USAF serial number 78-0133) entered service with the 1st Fighter Wing at Beauvechain Air Base on 30 May 1980. When the number of F-16 combat aircraft on inventory with the Belgian Air Force was reduced from 160 to 90 at the end of the Cold War, FA-18 was flown to Weelde Reserve Air Base on 26 October 1994 for medium term storage. Little over ten years later, on 18 February 2005, the aircraft was transported to Rocourt, near Liège, as part of a batch of 31 aircraft that were to be dismantled by the Competence Centre Rolling Material and Armament (CC R&A) for valorization in the form of spare parts. The aircrafts’ cells were scrapped, except for a limited number, which were destined to become gate guards or museum exhibits. One of these was FA-18, which arrived at the 1 Wing Historical Centre on 9 June 2006. It will soon be reassembled to replace the slowly but surely decaying rebuilt crashed FA-113 in the museum’s collection.
Hawker Hunter F.6 IF-65 (c/n 8815) was restored by the 1 Wing Historical Centre in 2006 and presented to the public on the occasion of the 2006 edition of the Defence Days which was held at Beauvechain Air Base. This Fairey built aircraft joined the Belgian Air Force on 15 April 1958. Only 483:20 flying hours later with No. 7 and No. 9 Wings at Chièvres and Bierset, it was struck of charge on 20 June 1962. The aircraft then served as a monument in front of the sports complex at the Bevingen barracks, the main residential area for personnel of the nearby Brustem Air Base. When the air base closed in 1996, the Hunter went into storage for nearly 10 years, at first with the reserves of the Brussels Air Museum in Kapellen, later at the premises of the 1 Wing Historical Centre. IF-65 was subsequently restored in the markings 7J-B – which it never wore in operational service – to represent the personal aircraft of Captain Robert “Bob” Corbeel, once No. 7 Squadron’s Commanding Officer. He made 323 flights on Hunter 7J-B(ob), which is probably an all-time high for the same pilot flying the same aircraft. The aircraft will be placed on a roundabout near Chièvres Air Base in the near future, pending approval by the local authorities.
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Text and pictures by
© Jos Schoofs (August 2007)
Last updated 22/08/07 17:38 Daniel Brackx