Koksijde : January and FebruaryTraditionally the year starts with (more than usual) F-16 practice approaches, and this year was not an exception. On the first flying day of the year, the D-Day striped 349 Sqn F-16 and 20 Sqn C-130 visited Koksijde for some training approaches. The first full stop visitor was Agusta H-31 on the 3rd of January. On the 15th an Irish Air Corps AW-139 helicopter crossed overhead on its way to Liege for maintenance. On the 28th a RAF Chinook crossed the airfield on its way to the north, probably to Norway for winter training.
On the 10th of February another RAF Chinook passed overhead on its way to the north. As the Irish Air Corps AW-139 274 passed on its way to Liege in January, this was the sign that not long after that another one would return back to Ireland. On the 11th of February AW-139 278 came back from maintenance in Liege. On the 18th Federal Police Air Support MD902 G-17 came in for fuel after an intervention in Koksijde. Before landing at the airfield they landed at the soccer field in Koksijde village. G-17 is the latest addition to the MD902 fleet of the Federal Police. Furthermore the usual visitors of the Belgian Air Force came to Koksijde for training approaches throughout the month.
Koksijde : March and AprilMarch brought us some marchetti's which made training approaches. On the 4th, 10th and 12th some even made a full stop landing. On the 6th, C-130 CH-05 made five IFR approaches, and on the 9th CH-09 made three approaches. Some F-16's from Kleine Brogel found their way to the coast as well and brought us some jet noise. On the 9th a MD902 from the Police Air Support Unit made a fuel stop after a mission in the surroundings of Koksijde. Due to the COVID-19 virus, Belgium went into a lock-down as from the 18th of March, and so this was the end of regular military flights. As from then only strictly necessary flights to maintain the qualifications of the pilots were executed. Also the airbases were open only a couple of days per week. On the 30th NH-90MTH RN-06 from the 18th Sqn in Beauvechain came to practice some winching exercises on one of the bunkers on the airfield.
April was very quiet with only some movements on the few days the airfield was open. The only visitors we had were some F-16's which made IFR approaches. On the 23rd a Royal Netherlands Air Force NH-90NFH made a fuel stop on its way to De Kooy coming from Culdrose. They had to terminate their mission on a ship due to the COVID-19 virus and returned home earlier than planned. On the 29th two F-16's from Kleine Brogel performed two base attacks which could be heard from far away!
Koksijde : MayIn May the flight activities resumed and Koksijde was often used by the Belgian Air Force for practice approaches. We had training of Marchetti's and A.109BAi from Beauvechain, F-16's from Kleine Brogel and Florennes and C-130's and ERJ-135 from Melsbroek. On the 12th C-130 CH09 came to Koksijde for night VFR patterns with Night Vision Goggles which was nice to see. As the borders are still closed no foreign visitors were seen except for one Irish Air Corps AW139 that crossed overhead on the 27th on its way to Liege for maintenance.
Koksijde : JuneOn the 12th an ERJ-135 from the 21st Sqn in Melsbroek made four training approaches on both RWY11 and 29! Throughout the month some F-16's came to Koksijde for training approaches or just crossing the airfield to the North Sea. On the 18th FA-114 made some nice approaches with banking's towards the tower for the recordings of the Virtual Opendoor which replaced the 'real' opendoor on the 1st of July. On the 19th an Irish Air Corps AW139 made a fuel stop on its way back home after maintenance in the Leonardo facilities in Liege. After departure the helicopter had some technical issues and returned back to Koksijde. The next day some technicians from the Leonardo company came to Koksijde to fix the helicopter. To have the clearance to fly back to Baldonel, an inspector had to be flown in at Ostend Airport with a CN235 to release the helicopter. On the 25th another AW139 made a fuel stop, this time on its way to Liege for maintenance at the Leonardo facilities. It was nice to see two Irish AW139's in one week. On the 22nd C-130 CH12 made a nice low pass over the runway on the request of the tower! On the 29th the last 3-ship formation flight Alouette III was held and A.109 H-28 flew with the formation to make awesome air to air footage of the formation flight.
Koksijde : JulyIn the first half of the month we almost had daily visits of Agusta helicopters from the 17th Sqn in Beauvechain for training approaches or refueling. From 14 till 16 July one MEDEVAC equipped A.109BAi went to Lombardsijde for exercises and came to Koksijde to take some fuel before leaving back to Beauvechain. On the 13th a Royal Netherlands Air Force NH-90NFH from 860 Sqn in De Kooy came in for a quick fuel stop on its way back from a ship to his home base. On the 22nd a NH-90MTH from the 18th Sqn in Beauvechain made one IFR approach and continued low level along the coastline to Knokke. The next day C-130H CH-04 made its last flight after 48 years of loyal service and 23203 hrs on the clock. The last flight was a navigation flight over Belgium and two low passes were made over Koksijde before leaving for the last time inbound Ursel. After CH-08 (2017), CH-10 (2018) and CH-03 (2019), this was the fourth C-130 that was taken out of service in preparation for the new Airbus A-400M.
Last formation Alouette IIIIn 1971 three Aerospatiale (Sud Aviation) SA.316B Alouette III arrived in Koksijde AB (Belgium) to serve with the Belgian Navy as supply helicopter for ships at sea. The helicopters of the Navy Flight are flown and maintained by Navy personnel but were part of the 40th Sqn of the Belgian Air Force. They support supply ships A960 Godetia and A961 Zinnia (retired), and since 2007 also F930 Leopold I and F931 Louise-Marie. Due to reorganization of Belgian defense in 2004, the helicopters were completely integrated in the 40th Sqn and are now part of the Belgian Air Component. After 50 years of loyal service, the helicopters will be withdrawn of service in 2021 and the NH-90NFH Caiman will take over.
In September 2020, the first Alouette III will be taken out of service (M-3 c/n 1817), followed by M-2 (c/n 1816) and M-1 (c/n 1812) in June/July 2021. To mark the end of the Alouette III service in the Belgian Air Component, a formation flight of all three helicopters was flown on Monday 29 June overflying the most important land/sea marks during their 50 years career.
Défile over BrusselsFor the second year in a row our NH-90NFH presented the Belgian Flag to open the aerial fly-pass over the Royal Palace on our National Day the 21st of July. This year the fly-pass was very limited due to the COVID-19 crisis with only the NH-90NFH and three 3-ship F-16 formations. New this year was that two 3-ship F-16 formations overflew the capitals of each Belgian province so everyone could see the Belgian Air Force over their own province. To honor everyone that worked so hard during the COVID-19 crisis, they added a white piece to the flag this year. On the 6th of July the crew practiced with the MAOT (Mobile Air Operations Team) at Koksijde airbase to see if everything worked well so no surprises appear on the 21st of July. To pick up the 500kg of weight and the flag, a field in Groot-Bijgaarden near the flight path of the Defile was chosen. After the passes the flag was dropped at Beauvechain Airbase.