Exercise "Crazy Trip 2009"


Between May 7th and May 15th 2009 the Belgian military organised an exercise baptised “Crazy Trip 2009” in the northern part of the Netherlands to train on a large scale the evacuation of civilians, the so-called “Non Combatant Evacuation Operation“ (NEO). In the past Belgium had been faced with a real life large scale evacuation when in 1960 the majority of the Belgian nationals had to leave the former colony of Congo.  On Tuesday May 12th a press-day was organised with participants being flown in by Embraer EMB 145LR (CE-04) and a C-130H to transport the members of the press to De Kooij.

Hercules CH-12 Crazy Trip 2009

Belgian Hercules transports and Agusta A109BA helicopters at De Kooij. Note that the Belgian Defence logo-roundel has disappeared from the tail surfaces.

This NEO exercise was composed of four elements:

  • A preparation phase, in which personnel and equipment were assembled and prepared
  • A deployment phase, in which men and equipment were flown out of Melsbroek airbase near Brussels to a neighbouring “friendly” country.
  • An evacuation phase, in which military personnel are used to occupy an airfield in “enemy territory” to serve as location from which civilians can be flown out.
  • A redeployment phase, in which all troops and equipment are returned to Belgium.

In cooperation with the Dutch armed forces, Leeuwarden airbase was assigned the task of being the airfield in “friendly country” while the tip of the province of Noord-Holland was acting as “enemy territory”. At Den Helder the civilians were to be assembled and flown out from the nearby Marine base of De Kooij.

Hercules CH-12 Crazy Trip 2009

C-130H ready to evacuate civilians from "enemy territory"

After a week of preparation in which several flight were executed between Brussels and Leeuwarden by Belgian Hercules transports and Dutch KDC-10’s the “attack” on Den Helder and De Kooij was started over the weekend. When de Kooij was “taken” on Monday the evacuation of civilian started immediately. During the trip between the assembly point and the airfield the convoy of civilians and military personnel was frequently attacked by “rebels” and “enemy troops”. During this process a simulated wounded person was evacuated by helicopter. 

Para Commando's at De Helder

Para Troopers opposing "resistance".

Agusta A109BA H23

Agusta A109BA H-23 ready for a mission from De Kooij.

Active participants at this exercise were:


·         3 C-130H Hercules and a single Airbus A310 transport aircraft of the Belgian Air Component

·         4 Agusta A109BA helicopters of the Belgian Air Component

·         F-16s’ of the Belgian Air Component to protect the transport aircraft

·         One command-ship of the Belgian Sea Component

·         An air transportable hospital with 50 personnel of the Medical component.

·         700 Para commando’s of the IRC (Immediate Reaction Capability) –Regiment Para Commando’s (with members of the 1st Battalion Para of Diest, 2nd Battalion Commando of Flawinne and 3rd Battalion Para of Tielen) and the 2nd Battalion Commando’s of Flawinne.   

·         Some 150 Belgian and 30 Dutch military personnel acting as the “bad guys” in the exercise.


·         KDC-10 Royal Netherlands Air Force

·         F-16’s of the Royal Netherlands Air Force to protect the transport aircraft and for “Close Air Support”

·         100 troops of the 11th Air Manoeuvre Brigade (Netherlands Armed Forces)

·         One landing craft of the Royal Netherlands Navy


 Text and pictures by

© Joris Van Boven  (May 2009)

Last updated 22/05/09 17:22   Daniel Brackx