13th Indian Day Motor Rally

Indian Day

After an interruption of several years the 15th Transport Wing last year resumed the tradition of its annual Indian Day, a motor run for bikers with a big heart for the less fortunate in our society. The 13th edition of the Indian Day took place at Melsbroek Air Base on 29 May 2010. More than 2,000 participants rode a tour of 95 km in the direction of Tienen in the morning and a second tour of 85 km to the west, in the direction of Aalst, in the afternoon. During the noon pit-stop in between both rides and at the end of the event bikers and spectators could enjoy a biker fair, a barbecue, live concerts and a static show of aircraft of the 15th Wing at the air base. In the late afternoon young patients of the National Multiple Sclerosis Centre in Melsbroek enjoyed the highlight of the day, a ride on a large bike, a Can-Am roadster or in a sidecar.

The Indian Day is organised on a voluntary basis by personnel of the 15th Transport Wing and is sponsored mainly by defence or motorcycle related companies willing to support the unit’s benevolent projects. Like last year’s proceeds of 16,500 Euros, the benefits of the 13th Indian Day will be distributed equally among IMSO (International Multiple Sclerosis Organization - www.imso.be), FONAVIBEL (Fonds Nationale d’Aide aux Victimes de l’Aviation Belge/Nationaal Hulpfonds voor Slachtoffers van het Belgisch Vliegwezen - www.fonavibel.be) and SOS Kinderdorpen/SOS Villages d’Enfants (www.sos-kinderdorpen.be/www.sos-villages-enfants.be). Those three benevolent projects have obvious links with the 15th Transport Wing: IMSO is located in Melsbroek, FONAVIBEL assists the next of kin of Belgian aviation victims and the projects of SOS Kinderdorpen/SOS Villages d’Enfants conquered the hearts of transport crews during their numerous missions to Africa.

The annual Indian Day not only attracts thousands of bikers, but also numerous aviation enthusiasts. The static display showed them what the 15th Wing is all about and what Melsbroek Air Base is standing for. A photographic impression.

Lockheed C-130H CH-01

A souvenir photograph of all participants arriving for the 13th Indian Day was taken in front of Lockheed C-130H Hercules CH-01, one of the workhorses of No. 20 Squadron of the 15th Wing. The cockpit and cargo hold of the aircraft could be visited in the afternoon.


Almost all aircraft of No. 21 Squadron of the 15th Wing were present in the static show of the 13th Indian Day. Airbus A330-322 CS-TMT took off at 10 a.m. to pick up paratroopers in Norway on exercise there during the past week, while Dassault Falcon 900B CD-01 was on a mission somewhere in Europe. Other types serving with No. 21 Squadron are the Airbus A310-222, Dassault Falcon 20E-5 and Embraer ERJ135LR/ERJ145LR. Seen here are ERJ145 CE-04, painted like it was delivered by the manufacturer, and Airbus A310-222 CA-02. CA-02 is the sole of the type remaining in service with No. 21 Squadron. It is used every now and then to supplement the leased Airbus A330-322 CS-TMT. Note the different lettering on both aircraft: CA-02 carries Belgian Defence titles, while CE-04 has Belgian Air Force titles.


The tail markings of the Embraer Regional Jets of No. 21 Squadron are being modified at present. ERJ145 CE-03 is decorated with the new blue tail markings and large Ministry of Defence logo. The tail of ERJ135 CE-02 in the background is only halfway through this process as it is still lacking the Defence logo. In the new colour scheme the royal crest has been moved from the tail fin to the engine nacelles, where it replaces the Air Force crest. The colourful Ministry of Defence logo was carried by the Hercules transports too for some time, but has been removed again because it made the aircraft too conspicuous.


The new colour scheme of the tail fin of Dassault Falcon 20E-5 CM-02 is somewhat different from that of the ERJs. The colour scheme has only been applied to the top half of the fin to allow retaining the royal crest and that of the Air Force on the lower part of the vertical tail and on the engine nacelles respectively. CM-01 in the background still carries the 60th anniversary markings of the 15th Wing.


Airbus A310-222 CA-01, which has been put up for sale in March.


Maintenance workload on the ageing Hercules aircraft is very high, especially because of their intensive use in operations in Afghanistan and Africa. During the Indian Day technicians were repairing one of the engines of CH-13. Note the serial number on the nose of the aircraft. It has been extended to CH-13.51, which reads CH-14 when rounding it up in a mathematically correct way. It is not a sign of superstition, but of Hercules aircrew sense of humour.


Operations continue at the 15th Wing during the weekend. Upon returning from a mission Hercules CH-11 made a low-pass over the runway to salute the participants in the 13th Indian Day. The dark part of the underside of the fuselage is rubberised to protect it against loose chippings thrown up by the wheels during operations from unpaved runways.


An interesting visitor in the static display was Lockheed CC-130E Hercules 130325 (c/n 4285) of the Royal Canadian Air Force. The aircraft serves with the 8th Wing and operates temporarily from Melsbroek Air Base in the framework of the Open Skies programme. The Open Skies Treaty of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) entered into force in January 2002, and covers territory from Vancouver to Vladivostock. The Treaty establishes a regime of unarmed aerial observation flights over the entire territory of its 34 signatories. It is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, the possibility to obtain information on military or other activities of concern to them. Open Skies is the most wide-ranging international effort to date to promote openness and transparency of military forces and their activities.

130325 Pod

Ten Hercules operating nations (Belgium, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Spain) formed a consortium in order to share development and operating costs for a common sensor pod and associated on-board systems for Open Skies missions. The pod is a converted C-130 external fuel tank carrying the different permitted sensors and was certified on 25 June 2002. The pod and associated on-board systems are stored and maintained at Melsbroek Air Base. The costs of maintaining the SAMSON (Special Avionics Mission Strap-on-Now) Pod are shared, based on each nation's flight quota and actual use.


Another user of Melsbroek Air Base is the Air Support Unit of the Federal Police. Police operations too continue during the weekend. McDonnell Douglas MD900 Explorer G-11 performed several missions during the Indian Day.


From the Melsbroek Air Base apron one has a first class view on landing and taking off civil aircraft as illustrated by this Airbus A300-600R of Egypt Air Cargo.



 *  *  *

 © Jos Schoofs (May 2010)



Last updated 31/05/10 18:32   Daniel Brackx