Belgian Defence Days 2006 - Photo Report

 

The fifth edition of the Belgian Defence Days organised for the second time at Beauvechain airbase has attracted a good mixture of old and new aircraft and was the perfect setting for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the creation of an independent air arm in Belgium. First called Militair Vliewezen / Aviation Militaire the new force was created on 15 October 1946 and grew into the Belgian Air Force (15 January 1949) and now referred to as Air Component of the Belgian Defence.

Only pictures can do justice to this very successful event, so have a look.....

Six Alpha Jets, filling the grey sky with the Belgian national colours, opened the main part of the flying programme of the Belgian Defence Days on both weekend days of 2 and 3 September. The aircraft that participated in this opening flight were AT-01, 02, 03, 05, 23 and 27.

Although the 70th anniversary of the first flight of the Spitfire was celebrated during the same weekend at Duxford, the Belgian Defence succeeded in bringing Spitfire FR.XVIIIE G-BUOS to Beauvechain airbase. The fact that Historic Flying Ltd of Belgian car exhaust manufacturer Karel Bos owns this aircraft probably played a crucial role in its appearance at the 60th anniversary festivities of the Belgian Air Force. The aircraft arrived at Beauvechain airbase with a guard of honour of three F-16s.

 

This formation of a Spitfire and a Fighting Falcon symbolises sixty years of Belgian Air Force. When the Air Force was re-established after the Second World War in 1946, the Spitfire was its main combat aircraft, a role nowadays played by the F-16. Rod Dean flew spitfire FR.XVIIIE SM845, while Commandant Michaël “Mickey” Artiges was at the controls of F-16AM FA-131. 

To Represent the early days of the young Belgian Air Force a C-47B Dakota and T-6 Harvard made a formation pass.

In the 60 years of its existence, the Belgian Air Force used three types of aircraft for fast jet training: the Fouga CM.170R Magister, the Lockheed T-33A T-Bird and the Dornier-AMD Alpha Jet 1B. Unfortunately the T-Bird was destroyed in a crash during take-off from Duxford three days later. Fortunately the crew escaped with minor injuries.

Joint Demo

One of the highlights of the Belgian Defence Days 2006 was the Joint Demo, during which people and equipment of the Air, Land and Medical Components were brought into action to demonstrate how forces are combined in a Quick Reaction type operation to secure a zone somewhere in a far away country

A Recce Pod equipped F-16AM provides the Quick reaction force with the much needed aerial intelligence.

Lockheed FA-135, one of the fighters providing air-cover during the Joint Demo

A morale-boosting element for the troops is the presence of medevac helicopters, ensuring rapid transport of wounded warriors to a nearby medical aid station for first aid.


The Belgian Defence Days offer the opportunity to become acquainted through active participation with many of the numerous and diverse activities of the military profession. Several hundreds of young people learned more about flying with the Air Component by making a maiden flight in Embraer ERJ-145 CE-04. Others made more individual flights in an Alouette II, Alouette III, Hirundo or Sea King.

The propeller tips grinding through the humid air makes artistical circles around the engines of Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-10.

Fouga solo display pilot LtCol Paul Rorive, the man that flies lower than his shadow…

Take-off of Commandant Michaël “Mickey” Artiges in his FA131 for his solo display of the F-16AM.

Such line-ups were once a common sight at Beauvechain airbase. Nowadays they have become a rarity that only occurs on the occasion of an air show or one or another festivity. 

Very few people have noticed this official Belgian Defence aircraft, a target drone Ultima 14-255.

A Greek Air Force F-16D arrives at Beauvechain airbase. It replaced the eagerly awaited and sadly missed T-2C Buckeye

Impressive demonstration by a French Armée de l'Air Mirage 2000

Slowing becoming a more common sight; a Romanian MiG-21 Lancer

The German Black Birds performed for the first time in Belgium at the Defence Days 2006. The team flies four Czech built aircraft, three Zlin 42MUs (D-EWMA, D-EWMC and D-EWMD) and one Zlin 43 (D-EWFG). Although the light aircraft had to cope with rather strong winds during both days, their presentation looked very fine, proving the good quality of both aircraft and pilots.

Spitfire SM845/GZ-J is painted in a colour scheme that it wore when it was based with No. 32 Squadron at Ein-Schemer in Palestine in 1947.

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress F-AZDX featured in the making of the film Memphis Belle in 1989. It still carries the markings of the two roles it played in this spectacular production on its nose: Pink Lady on the starboard side and Mother Earth on the port side.

The ill-fated Lockheed T-33A in Royal Candian Air Force markings.

One of the most admired aircraft in the static park was the immaculately restored Lockheed F-104G Starfighter FX-47. For this work of art, the members of the restoration team of the local 1 Wing Historical Centre rightly deserve congratulations.

Placed next to the superb FX-47, Hawker Hunter F.6  IF-65 clearly shows how "not" to restore an aircraft.

The Belgian Defence Days were preceded on September 1st by the official celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Belgian Air Force, which was concluded in the late evening with a flypast of 24 F-16 aircraft and a limited solo presentation of the type. Display pilot Commandant Michaël “Mickey” Artiges presented this sparkling firework to his Royal Highness Prince Philippe of Belgium – a military pilot himself – who attended the concluding manifestation of the anniversary celebration.

 

Jos Schoofs - Dirk Geerts - Jan Claessens - Mick Balter - Daniel Brackx (September 2006)

 

Last updated 16/03/12 07:17   Daniel Brackx

daniel.brackx@telenet.be