Koksijde : JanuaryThe start of a new year, and hopefully a very interesting and busy year for Koksijde. Unlike the traditional many F-16 visits in the beginning of the year, this year we had no F-16's coming to Koksijde before the 22nd of January. Also the bad weather was one of the reasons January was a quiet month. Nevertheless we still had some interesting visitors to start the year. On the 12th C-130 CH03 made one approach after its functional check flight. On the 16th a Cazaux based French Alpha jet made two IFR approaches, which was the first foreign visitor of the year. On the 19th the seventh of fourteen NH-90s ordered by the Norwegian Air Force, made a nightstop on its way to its homebase Haakonsvern HEL where it will serve with the 334 Skv. It landed in late afternoon and departed the next morning in bad weather conditions. It is the first of six NH-90s being delivered in the ASW variant. Norway expects three more NH-90s to be delivered in 2018 and we hope they will all transit through Koksijde during their delivery flight. On the 22nd three F-16 from Florennes made a base attack and woke-up Koksijde airbase with some jetnoise.
Koksijde : FebruaryFebruary brought us much better weather and some visitors as well. On the 8th two French Alpha jets each made one IFR approach before leaving to Beauvechain. On the 16th two Kleine Brogel F-16's made a base attack on the base. On the 21st a French Navy Dauphin first flew over to NHV in Ostend to drop a person and came to Koksijde to take some fuel. Afterwards they made an LZ landing on the helipad of the hospital of Veurne, Ieper, Gent and Brugge and made an intermediate landing at NHV again to pick-up the person before leaving back to Le Touquet. This exercise was to become familiar to the Belgian helipads at the hospitals in case they should take over the SAR duties of the Belgian Air Force in case no helicopter is available. On the 28th an NH-90MTH from Beauvechain made some low passes and made a fuelstop afterwards before leaving back to Beauvechain again.
Koksijde : March and AprilJust like in February, French Navy Dauphin no.17 based at Le Touquet came to Koksijde to take some gas before visiting the West Flemish hospitals for a training LZ. This time Niels was able to take some pictures of this nice visitor at the hospital of Veurne. On the 9th, C-130 CH-04 made some approaches and not less than six F-16's from Florennes also made an overshoot that day. On the 14th five Marchetti's made a full stop landing, as well as an A.109 agusta, all based at Beauvechain. Two French Air Force Alpha jets each made one IFR approach, and again four F-16's from Florennes made an overshoot. On the 19th two Kleine Brogel F-16's made two simulated base attacks. On the 21st and 22nd a twin squirrel with a camera mounted, made some refueling during filming the bicycle race "Driedaagse van De Panne". On the 28th again two French Air Force Alpha Jets made an IFR approach.
It's become a tradition that the 80 Sqn UAV come to the Belgian coast when spring arrives to make some pollution control flights over the North Sea. This time they arrived in the beginning of April and brought five B-Hunters to Koksijde. On the 3rd four F-16's from Kleine Brogel made a low approach which is pretty exceptional. The French Alpha Jet's tend to like Koksijde as they came back on the 4th, this time with three different Alpha Jets. On the 6th four F-16's made an overshoot, this time not from Florennes but from Kleine Brogel. On the 11th four Army Air Corps Wildcat helicopters passed over Koksijde on their way to Gilze Rijen where they did a nightstop. On the 24th a Royal Navy Wildcat made a fuel stop on its way to ILA Berlin. It flew with a Westland callsign which indicates it was being sent from the factory. Also a Royal Air Force Chinook passed overhead on its way to Berlin, wearing stickers marking the centenary of the RAF. On the 25th the Citation of the NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre) calibrated the IFR installations again. On the 26th four 350 Sqn F-16's made an overshoot to the North Sea in the morning and in the afternoon. Very nice to see those flying over full speed at low level.
Koksijde : MayUnlike March and April, May was a lot busier. The B-Hunter UAV's were still deployed and flew daily missions when weather permitted. On the first of May the Royal Navy Wildcat, that made a fuelstop on April 24th on its way to ILA in Berlin, flew over again back home. In May we had a lot of French Alpha Jets which made an IFR approach. Unfortunately they mostly came in bad weather conditions. On the 2nd two, and on the 16th three Alpha Jets made an approach. On their way back to Cazaux the next day, they made an approach again! On the 2nd two 4-ship formations of F-16's based at Florennes made a low pass on their way to the sea. On the 4th again a 2-ship and 4-ship formation passed over the base which was great to see. On the 8th a Beauvechain based NH-90TTH came in to drop something and continued its way to the Netherlands for IFR training. Later that day a Danish Merlin made a fuelstop on its way back home from the factory in Yeovil. The Merlin crashed on October 11th 2014 in an area southeast of Masar-e-Sharif in Afghanistan. In a landing outside the base the helicopter turned over on the side. The crew survived with only minor injuries, but the helicopter was heavily damaged. The crew was on a training mission, when the helicopter during landing turned over and lost the tail section and rotorblades. The helicopter was rebuilt and looks brand new. The next day a Dutch Chinook from Gilze Rijen made a low approach. On the 10th, RAF Puma XW224, wearing a very nice tigerscheme, passed overhead to Ostend for a fuelstop on its way to Poland for the tigermeet. On the 26th they passed again on the way back to RAF Benson. On the last day of the month an Irish Air Corps AW.139 tried to fly home after after a major overhaul in the agusta factory in Luik. Very bad weather over the channel prevented them to reach the UK, so they decided to land at Koksijde. It would take them till June 6th to continue their journey to Baldonnel in Ireland.
Koksijde : JuneJune was a busy month which brought some very special visitors to Koksijde. The evening before the commemoration of D-day on the 6th of June, some VVIPs flew with five A.109s over the biggest war monuments in West Vlaanderen. Four of these helicopters landed at Koksijde to take fuel after they brought back these people to Ostend harbour. On the same day two French Alpha Jets made an instrument approach. The next day something happened what nobody thought would ever happen again at Koksijde. The Belgian Air Force Demo F-16 and spare aircraft landed at Koksijde after a practice demo in front of the beach of Lombardsijde. These were the first F-16s to land at Koksijde after the last airshow being held in 2011! The next day there was a press day at sea to present all the events that would be held by Belgian defence during the summer, off course with F-16 demoteam, and both landed at Koksijde again! The pilot Stefan -Vador- Darte pleased the many photographers at the fence with some spectacular low approaches before he touched down. On May the 30th an Irish Air Corps AW139, which flew from Luik to Ireland, diverted to Koksijde due to bad weather over the channel. On the 6th a Casa 235 brought a new crew to fly the helicopter back to Ireland. On the 12th a French Alpha Jet made an IFR approach again. On the 21st a Danish Air Force Fennic made a nightstop and continued the day after further north. On the same day a Royal Air Force Chinook made a fuelstop during a navigation flight in Europe. They visted Spangdahlem, Brussels and Amsterdam the days before. On the 28th the same chinook did the same tour including a visit to Koksijde. On the 22nd two Royal Netherlands Air Force NH-90NFH passed Koksijde along the coastline on their way back to De Kooy after their FOST training at Culdrose.
Koksijde : JulyJuly was not a bad month with a lot of F-16's making it to the Belgian coast, some only passing overhead to the sea, others making a low approach. You can clearly notice that our Belgian F-16 force was not deployed anywhere in the theater so they more often could be seen in Belgium. On the 6th a Netherlands Air Force Cougar based at Gilze Rijen made a fuelstop on its way to the Yeovilton Air Day in the UK. On Monday the 9th they landed again on their way to the Netherlands. On Sunday the 8th a Netherlands Air Force NH-90NFH which participated in the Yeovilton Air Day passed along the coastline back to De Kooy. On the 12th an EC135P2+ from MFG5 based at Nordholz made a fuel stop on its way to Fairford for the Air Tattoo. The helicopter is used to train helicopter pilots for the German Navy. A Dutch Chinook and Apache, a Belgian A.109 and an Italian HH-101A Caesar also passed Koksijde on their way to and from the Air Tattoo. On the 13th in the late afternoon a Dutch NH-90NFH made a quick fuel stop on its way back to De Kooy. On the 20th four F-16's from 31 Sqn passed overhead to the sea and returned later on in a nice formation with the Tigertail leading the formation.
Koksijde : AugustOn the 2nd four French Alpha Jets based at Cazaux made an IFR and went to Melsbroek afterwards. On the 7th four Kleine Brogel based F-16's each made two base attack runs at the airfield, always impressive to see. On the 9th a Netherlands Air Force PC-7 based at Woensdrecht came to make 3 IFR approaches, which was a long time ago. On the 14th another one made it to Koksijde for 2 IFR approaches. On the 13th F-16AM FA70 made 4 visual circuits, which is rather exceptional. On the 14th the Belgian demo A.109 made a fuelstop on its way to the Eastbourne airshow and came back on the 20th to take some gas as well. On the 20th C-130H CH10 made a test flight and came to Koksijde afterwards for some IFR training. This C-130 is wearing a special paint scheme to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the 15th Wing and the 45th anniversary of the C-130 in the Belgian Air Force. Unfortunately this airframe has only little hours left before being retired from service, so be quick to catch it. On the 21st Agusta H-45 made some first flights for the 4-daagse van de Ijzer. On the 22nd and 23rd some French Alpha Jets came again to make some IFR approaches after visiting Melsbroek again, apparently they like Brussels a lot. On the 28th the B-Hunter UAV's were back at Koksijde for their second deployment of the year.
Koksijde : September and OctoberIn September the 80th Sqn UAV had their NATO Evaluation (NATEVAL) so there was more UAV flying then usual. Some days they even did flights with two B-Hunters at the same time. On the 6th two Royal Netherlands Air Force PC-7's did some IFR training. It is nice to notice that they found Koksijde again to perform IFR training as they come more and more often. On the 7th and 10th a Royal Navy Merlin based at RNAS Culdrose landed to take some fuel on their way to and from the Belgian Air Force days in Kleine Brogel. On the 13th it was a busy day with practice approaches of five Kleine Brogel F-16's. Three others made a base attack on the airfield. On the 17th two C-130's did three runs to pick up around 350 paratroopers and drop them over the exercise region during exercise Storm Tide 5. On the 17th and 18th two Agusta helicopters did some flare exercises at Lombardsijde and came to Koksijde to reload the flares and take some fuel. On the same day an MD902 from the Federal Police made some autorotations over the airfield and took some fuel afterwards. October started again with a Dutch PC-7 for IFR training. On the 2nd a French Navy Dauphin brought Koksijde a visit again. On the 3rd the Dutch NLR Citation came to calibrate the navigation aids at the airfield. Very impressive to see these gear-up low passes with a private jet. On the 9th a Norwegian NH-90ASW made a short fuelstop on its way from the factory in Italy to Norway during its delivery flight. As it is an ASW version the markings on the helicopter were toned down. The rest of the month was pretty calm with only some Marchetti and F-16 approaches.
Koksijde : November and DecemberNovember was again a very calm month. On the 5th two F-16's made a low approach on RWY11 and those could be photographed in their final turn from De Panne. On the 7th a C-130 came to Koksijde for nightflying. They first dropped some special forces and then did 6 stop and taxi back in complete darkness with night vision goggles. Furthermore some F-16's for some practice approaches and on the 26th a PC-7 from Woensdrecht for one touch and go. The 4th of December brought C-130 CH-13 for two approaches and the 10th they came back. On the 6th and 7th the Belgian Coastguard Britten Norman Islander made a landing which brought some color on these dark days of the year. On the 13th and 18th some F-16's made a base attack and gave us some jetnoise. On the same day two French Air Force Alpha Jets each made an IFR approach. On the 19th the agusta flew together with the last formation flight of the three remaining Sea Kings and F-16AM FA104 made a nice low approach for the many spectators which were at the fence that day.
Belgian Open Aerobatics Championship 2018For the third time in a row, the Belgian Open Aerobatics Championship was organised at Koksijde in cooperation with the West Aviation Club. All pilots and their planes arrived on Thursday and later that day and Friday they started to qualify themselves for the championship. Weather was perfect each day with clear blue skies all day long. The first three days the temperature was very nice due to a moderate northerly wind, but on Sunday it was really hot with temperatures rising above 30 degrees C. The overall winner of the Championship was Kristof Cloetens. Congratulations Kristof!
Open Door West Aviation ClubAs the BOACK is open to the public, the West Aviation Club invited some other guests to entertain the people. On the ground there were some aviation shops, bars, food stands (even with a special Red Devils burger) and even Flying Circus from the Netherlands came to entertain young and old. In the air the Victors, Agusta demo team and the Sea King came from Ursel to perform a demonstration. Our Belgian national team The Red Devils stole the show, both on the ground and in the air. On Saturday first flights were given with a Jetranger, and on both days the MUG helicopter from Bruges came for the static display. Some impressive low passes were done before leaving back to Bruges on Sunday evening.
Open DoorThis year's opendoor held on Wednesday August 22nd started cloudy, but ended with a lot of sun. This was the final opendoor where the mighty Sea King could be seen in operational service. Unfortunately it was its successor that performed the SAR-demo, but the Sea King did some paradrops. The start of the Runwayrun and afterwards the flights with the winners was flown by the Sea King. In the afternoon a demo of the A.109 Agusta demo team, a tactical demo with an NH-90MTH from Beauvechain and a radar station attack by two F-16's could be seen. Also the Red Devils did a full display to entertain the massive public attendance. For static display an A.109 in medevac configuration, a Marchetti and C-130 came to Koksijde.
Storm Tide 5From September 16 till 21, Belgian Defence organizes exercise Storm Tide 5. The exercise begins in Koksijde with an amphibious operation, but will mainly be held in the Binche and Nivelles region. During this exercise the Special Operations Regiment practices the procedures and techniques of safety and evacuation missions of homeland citizens in a crisis country. They got support from C-130's, A.109's and NH-90 helicopters. On Monday two C-130's did three runs to pick up around 350 paratroopers and drop them over the exercise region. This time the weather DID cooperate and it was very nice to see some C-130 action again at Koksijde.
Photoshoot KorpsmaaltijdFor the occasion of the yearly base staff meal, a group picture is being taken. The three remaining Sea Kings on the runway acted as a background for this picture. As this will be the last time ever to happen so we went to the base to take some pictures as well.
Last formation flightOn December 19th the last three remaining airworthy Sea Kings made a farewell tour in West and East Flanders. The route they followed was published in advance and many hundreds of people were along the route to say goodbye to these famous and iconic helicopters. Fortunately the weather wasn't too bad in West Vlaanderen so the formation flight could go ahead. We went to the Ijzer tower where they passed twice, and afterwards we went to the airbase again for the landing. They flew over for the last time and did a break, before landing on the runway. Then they taxied in front of the squadron hangar and afterwards near the fence at the aero club where many people were gathered to give them a last greet.