Trips 2013

Albacete - TLP 2013-5 : Spottersday

On the second of October the organisation of the TLP organised a spottersday. 200 aircraft photographers per day could enter the airbase to witness a TLP mission from close by. The day started with a security search and continued with a safety briefing in the main TLP hangar. Afterwards we could walk between the aircraft on the ramps to take as many pictures as we wanted. After that there was a possibility to buy merchandise of the participating units. Around noon we went to the officer’s mess to have a good Spanish lunch: paella. After lunch we were brought next to the runway to witness the take offs and landings. As we were very close to the runway, this was an awesome experience. After all the aircraft had landed, our excellent day had come to an end. Thank you to the TLP staff who made this day possible!

Albacete - TLP 2013-5 : 01/10/2013

For the first time since the TLP left Florennes, we went to Spain to enjoy this famous exercise again. We arrived just before the take-offs began. About 40 aircraft participated in the mission, which is a lot more than it used to be in Florennes. Weather was nice with a mix of clouds and sunny spells. Participants were Italy with EF2000 and a HH-3F, Poland with F-16C, Turkey with F-16C, France with Mirage 2000C and D, Switzerland with F/A-18C, the UK with Hawks and Spain with EF2000, F/A-18C and EF-18M+, a Sea King and UH-1.

Melsbroek - Opendoor

For the occasion of 65 years 15th Air Transport Wing, 40 years C-130 and Falcon 20 and 20 years DAFA at Melsbroek, an open-door was held over the weekend of 21 and 22 September on the military part of Zaventem National Airport. Some foreign transport units were invited, as well as some vintage aircraft. The Police support unit could show the public a nice collection of foreign police helicopters. Demonstrations were shown with the C-130 and the police helicopter showed the public what they are being used for. The visitors could win a flight in a C-130, ERJ-145 or Falcon 20.

Eindhoven - Operation Market Garden : 21/09/2013

Operation Market Garden was a massive airborne operation (Market) and a ground operation from Belgium (Garden). The plan was that British, Polish and American airborne troops would conquer some important bridges over Dutch rivers, so that the ground troops could go to the Ijsselmeer. Like this, the German troops in the West of Holland would be enclosed, and the allied troops could continue to the east, the German Ruhr area, which was the industrial heart of Germany. To commemorate this operation, each year there is a massive paradropping over the Ginkelse heide. This year paratroopers jumped out of 2 German C-160D's, one French C-160R, 2 Dakota's, one American C-130J and one British Hercules C5.

Sanicole - Airshow

On Sunday 15th of September it was time again for the main airshow day. The airshow organisers invited some nice participants again. The Czech Air Force came for the first time with their duo tactical display of the Mi-171Sh. Also the Polish Air Force showed their new helicopters, the SW-4. The Hungarian Air Force presented their great JAS39C gripen display. Some nice formation teams were present too, like Patrouille de France, PC-7 team and the Baltic Bees. But our highlight was the Rafale display which was again very dynamic.

Sanicole - Airshow : Sunset show

On Friday the 13th of September there was again a sunset show in Sanicole. Already for the fourth time it was a great spectacle. Unfortunately the weather gods were not with us that evening, but still a nice show could be seen. Highlights were the performers that used led lights or flares in their display. The end of the show was marked with a nice firework.

Sanicole - Airshow : Arrivals

The 37th Sanicole airshow attracted again a great participation list. Most of the participants operate out of Kleine Brogel for the airshow and on Thursday and Friday before the airshow most of the participants arrived. Highlights were the 2 French Rafales, of which one was painted in a striking tiger scheme, the Breitling Super Constellation and the Norwegian CT-133 Shooting Star. A nice bonus was the fuelstop of the Swedish Historical Flight SK60 and Hunter on their way back home from Jersey airshow. To entertain all the people in the approach, the local Belgian F-16's flew a lot of local missions.

Beauvechain - 100 years military aviation : 06/09/2013

On 16 April 2013, the Belgian Air Component celebrated the 100th birthday of military aviation in Belgium. For this occasion Belgian Defence organised a "joint power demo" in Beauvechain for some invited VIP's and high ranking military. The demo was a realistic scene of a conflict situation and showed the cooperation between the Air component, the Land component and the Royal Netherlands Air Force. They also showed some of the future aircraft for Belgium, the Airbus A400M and NH-90.

Kleine Brogel : 06/09/2013

The live flying exercise Brilliant Arrow 2013 (BAW13) is conducted primarily from the Orland Main Air Station, Norway, from 25 August to 6 September 2013. The aim of BAW13 is to provide training for 800 exercise participants and 50 NATO jets preparing them for their roles as NATO Response Force (NRF) assets during the stand-by period in 2014. In addition to Norway, the other NATO members France, Germany, Greece, Italy and the Netherlands (both countries do not deploy assets at Orland), Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom have made their personnel and materiel available for BAW13. On their way back from Norway to their homeland, 5 Portuguese and 4 Greek F-16's refuelled at Kleine Brogel.

Mildenhall & Lakenheath : 20/08/2013

RAF Lakenheath is home of 48th Fighter Wing. 48th FW consists out of 492 FS flying the F-15E, 493 FS flying the F-15C/D and 494 FS flying the F-15E. A fourth unit is 56th Rescue Sqn flying with 5 HH-60G pave hawks. As 492 FS and 494 FS only started to fly again after being grounded for 6 months, and all sqn's were at home, activity that day was very good all day long. Nearby is RAF Mildenhall and is well known as tanker town and home of the 100th ARW flying the KC-135R tankers. Another unit based at RAF Mildenhall is 352th Special operations group. This group consists out of 7th Special operations sqn flying the MC-130H Combat Talon II and CV-22B Osprey helicopters. The second flying sqn of this group is 67th SOS flying the MC-130P Combat Shadow and MC-130J. As both units missions are special operations, so most of their training is done in the evening and night. As the first 2 Ospreys only arrived 2 months before our visit, flying was still done during the day.

Valenciennes - Meeting Aérien

Every year around the French national holiday, there is the meeting aérien at the aerodrome in Valenciennes. This year the meeting was held on the 13th of July and was blessed with nice summer weather. The highlights of this year’s meeting were off course the military displays. Belgium sent the Sea King and a couple of passes of the F-16 solo display on their way back from Yeovilton to Florennes. Equipe de Voltige with their Extra 300 did a spectacular display again, as well as Patrouille de France. And the highlight of the show was not less than the mighty Rafale.

Zeebrugge - Navydays

As a yearly tradition, the first weekend of July (6 & 7 July), the Belgian Naval base opens its doors to the public. It always attracts a lot of people, and with this year’s good summer weather, this was no exception. There were paradroppings with the demo A.109 as well as a SAR demo of the Sea King. One alouette III was on-board of the Dutch P-842 Friesland. A second alouette III was in the static display and was used for first flights after the open-door.

Wittmund - Phantom Pharewell : Opendoor

On Saturday luckily the weather was better than on Friday. A lot of people came to Wittmund airbase to say goodbye to the mighty legend. In the morning there was some flying activity from a BO-105 and A-4 Skyhawk. Due to the strong winds the vintage aircraft could not fly. In the afternoon it was time for the main attraction, the Plyout of F-4's and the fly-in of the EF2000. F-4F 37+01 in the "First in, last out" special paint was the leader for the demo. The second one was 38+10, which was painted in the Norm 72 camouflage scheme. The third retro 38+33 which is painted in the Norm 81 camouflage scheme had a technical problem during start-up and was replaced by 38+28, which also has special markings for the last ever depot inspection done on an F-4F at Jever. Then the 4th F-4F was the 37+22 which was painted in the last camouflage scheme, Norm 90J. After the display, all four F-4F's were parked in front of the crowd so everyone could have a close look at these magnificent aircraft.

Wittmund - Phantom Pharewell : Spottersday

On Friday afternoon a lot of spotters were invited on the base to make some "clean" pictures of the remaining phantoms and the visiting aircraft. It was organised very good. To have some action they did some demonstrations of engine starts of an F-4F with cartridges, which was very impressive.

Wittmund - Phantom Pharewell : Arrivals

On the 30th of June the F-4F Phantom made its last operational flight in the German Air Force. As it’s such a mythic airplane, JG-71 - the last F-4F unit in the German Air Force - based at Wittmund, organised an open-door on Saturday 29 June so that the big public could say goodbye to the mighty Phantom. On Friday morning most of the visiting airplanes arrived for the open-door, unfortunately during heavy rain, but that didn't stop us and many more aircraft photographers.

Geilenkirchen : 26/06/2013

On our way to the Phantom Pharewell in Wittmund, we made a stop at the NATO base in Geilenkirchen. We were there from 9h00 till 12h00 and saw a USAF KC-135 and B757 departing for a mission. Also one of the local E-3A's took off and made some approaches before leaving for a mission. Then we continued to Nörvenich. There was a ceremony in the morning and some of the visitors departed in the afternoon. We saw a Neuburg EF2000 and Schleswig Tornado IDS departing back home.

Volkel - Opendagen : Flying display part 2

The second part contains pictures of the Dutch display teams: the Apache and F-16 which are always very impressive. Other solo displays were from the Turkish Solo Turk F-16, the mighty Saab Viggen and a very nice display from the Finnish F/A-18C. It was the first time I saw a hornet doing the cobra manoeuvre!! There was also a great amount of vintage jets like the Gloster Meteor, a Polish Lim-2 and a Hunter. About 60 years of history was shown in a formation flight of an F-16, Meteor and Hunter. Not only the Dutch Air Force celebrated their 100th anniversary, but also Patrouille de France exists 60 years this year. Ramex Delta with their awesome Mirage 2000N's could be seen for the first time in The Netherlands.

Volkel - Opendagen : Flying display part 1

The Dutch Open days are off course known for the always impressive "Air Power Demo". After the demo there was a join up with a KLM B737, which flew from Amsterdam to Volkel with ill children. Another "new" display in Western European airshows was the Danish Air Force C-130J Super Hercules. It was nice to see such large aircraft showing how manoeuvrable it is. At the end of its display it dropped all the flares it can carry, which was very impressive. Another welcome participant to airshows is the duo-display of 2 Polish SU-22 Fitters. Other displays in this part are the Belgian F-16, German BO-105, BBMF DC-3, Dutch B-25 and Spitfire, Czech JAS39 Gripen and Austrian PC-7. There were also some display teams at the celebration of the Dutch Air Force. Here you can already see the famous Red Arrows and Frecce Tricolori.

Volkel - Opendagen : Static display

In the static display there were some real gems: the 2 Greek A-7's, the beautifully decorated German F-4F, the Norwegian F-16 demo paint and the special painted German Navy Lynx, only to name some. As it was the celebration of 100 years military aviation in the Netherlands, there were also a lot of historic Dutch airplanes. And as the Volkel tradition, the static display can be photographed very nice.

Volkel - Opendagen : Spottersday

On Thursday an excellent spottersday was organised by SGVolkel. We were positioned in the middle of the runway and even a grandstand was available. Highlights were the 2 Greek A-7's which came in with an impressive low pass. In the afternoon some rehearsals took place, unfortunately under bad weather conditions.

Volkel - Opendagen : Arrivals

On Wednesday some of the participants already arrived for the big open day which would be held on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 June. Arrivals were 3 Polish SU-22 Fitters + Casa 295 support plane, Estonian AF AN-2, Romanian AF C-27J, Lim-2 and Frecce Tricolori + C-130J support plane. There were also some rehearsals from the famous Airpower demo, SU-22's and Soloturk. On Thursday was the main arrival day and after the spottersday I went to the spotterscorner to catch the remaining arrivals, unfortunately in heavy rain...

Marseille : 27/05/2013

On Monday afternoon we went to Marseille airport to catch some of the Securite Civile firefighters and some of the Eurocopter helicopters. We saw 2 Firecats, 5 CL.415's and one Beech 200. The CL.415's first did some runs in the water near the airfield, and so we went there to have a look too. This was very impressive to see for the first time. From Eurocopter we saw a modified RAF Puma, and a grey cougar, as well as some others, but these could not be photographed. The firecats on the ramp were taken out of the airport building while we were waiting our flight back to Lille.

BAN Hyeres : 27/05/2013

On Monday morning after the meeting aérien at Salon-de-Provence we participated a base visit at the naval base Hyeres organised by GRAS spotters. We were welcomed by our nice female guide and went to the platforms. In the first hangar we saw 3 NH-90 Caimans of 31F. The second hangar was home of the 36F flying the AS.565SA Panther. In the third hangar we saw some SA.365 Dauphins and alouette III of 35F. On the platform there was an Atlantique, and 2 Armée de l'air Fennics arrived for a fuelstop. There was some flying activity of a dauphin, panther and a deployed 34F lynx. Afterwards we went to a simulated carrier deck where 3 Super Etendards were used as training objects.

Salon-de-Provence - Meeting Aérien

On Sunday it was time for the actual "meeting aérien". Weather was very sunny but windy. Some nice demonstrations could be seen: Ramex Delta, Fouga Magister, Belgian F-16 Solo Display, solo and dual display from Equipe de Voltige, and a very spectacular display from an EC.725 Caracal. Off course a lot of display teams were on the party: Red Arrows, Frecce Tricolori, Patrouille Suisse, Patrulla Aguila, Team Iskra and the Belgian Red Devils. The highlight of the static display was the special decorated Mirage F-1CR. The airfield layout was kind of special as the public was situated between the runway and the display axis!

Salon-de-Provence - VIP day

On Saturday the airshow was not open to the big public. So we went to have a look at the show from outside the base. We found a great spot in the city centre of Lançon-Provence near the church. It was an elevated spot from where you had an excellent overview over the base.

Le Cannet-des-Maures : 25/05/2013

On Saturday 25th of May, the school of the army's light aviation (l’école de l’aviation légère de l’armée de Terre - EALAT) celebrated their 50th anniversary in Le Luc. For that occasion they organised a big military event in the city of Le Cannet-des-Maures, nearby the army airbase. People could discover the jobs available in the army, as well as demonstrations of several services (security dogs, fire demonstrations, a flyby with all the helicopter types of the EALAT, ...). Also 4 EALAT helicopters landed on a small grass field in the city enter and this is how it looks like when they arrived early morning.

Salon-de-Provence - Spottersday

Salon-de-Provence is situated in southern France near Marseille. Ecole de l'air is based at BA701 with the SR20 and SR22 aircraft. Also Equipe de Voltige with their Extra 300 and off course Patrouille de France are the most famous residents of Salon-de-Provence. As Patrouille de France celebrates their 60th anniversary, they invited the other display teams to join the party at a great airshow. On Friday they invited 250 spotters to enter the base to witness some arrivals and rehearsals for the airshow.

Orange : 23/05/2013

BA115 Orange-Caritat is situated in southern France near the famous Mont Ventoux. It houses one squadron of Mirage 2000B/C RDI: EC 02.005 Ile de France. That unit trains the M2000C pilots, but the sqn also is an operational defence unit. The Squadron consists out of C46 Trident, SPA84 Tête de Renard and SPA124 Jeanne d'Arc. There are not only mirage's based at Orange, but also a squadron of AS.555AN Fennec: EH 05.067 Alpilles. That unit is a light transport unit, but also fulfils the QRA for slower aircraft but also trains helicopter crews. This squadron consists out of 1 esc Durance and VB135 Chauve-souris. The mirages flew 4 missions per day from 10h00 till after 22h00. Great photo spots are around the base to come close to the action. It was great sunny weather that day, although a very strong wind (Mistral). The helicopters were departing and arriving all day long.

Wittmund : 24 & 25/04/2013

As the end is becoming very near now for the German Air Force F-4F phantoms we went to Northern Germany again to see some phantom action. On the first day there was a lot of activity at Wittmund. Weather was perfect with sun all day long and nice temperatures. There were a lot of visitors in the morning and some locals also came out to play. One EF2000 and one F-4F made a local flight in the morning and again in the afternoon. Another F-4F went to Laage and returned late afternoon. In the afternoon we had the honour to have a base visit at this nice fightertown. Our guide had placed an F-4F and EF2000 in front of the hangar so nice pictures could be taken! Afterwards we went to have a look in the squadron building and at 14h00lt we had a QRA demo. Very spectacular to see the crews and technicians running to the hangars, starting up and no less than 7 minutes later they were airborne!! Afterwards we went to the tower and the approach where we saw returning the QRA F-4's with a PAR. It was very interesting to see the controllers talking the phantoms to the ground. Afterwards we went to have a look to the flight simulator and this was already the end of our great visit. Next day we stayed near the fence again in the morning, but due to fog, only one F-4F took off to Nörvenich. A nice surprise visitor in shape of a Danish AF F-16BM came by for an approach.

Leeuwarden - Frisian Flag : 23/04/2013

Frisian Flag 2013 was held from April 15th - 26th at Leeuwarden Air Force Base and the nearby Dutch, German and Danish airspace over the North Sea. This year’s focus was on international cooperation and integration. During the two weeks about forty-two aircraft flew a mission twice a day. Including spare aircraft a total of sixty operational aircraft were present on a very crowded Leeuwarden AB. Hosting the exercise was 323 Tactical Training Evaluation and Standardization (TACTES) Squadron based at Leeuwarden, responsible for the standardization of national and international F-16 operations. Participating pilots have different experiences and main goal is to make them better pilots after the 2 week course. One of the objectives of Frisian Flag is to plan, execute and debrief large scale Combined Air Operation (COMAO) packages in realistic scenarios. Each type of mission, whether it be offensive, defensive or any combination of the two, require different aircraft. This year, the participating units came from the Belgium Air Force (F-16AM/BM, 10 Wing), German Air Force (EF2000, JBG31), French Air Force (Mirage F1CR, ER 02.033 and Mirage 2000, EC 02.005), Polish Air Force (F-16C/D, 31BLT) Swedish Air Force (JAS-39C/D, F21 Lulea) and off course the RNLAF with all operational F-16AM/BM Squadrons participating.

Luke : 20/03/2013

Luke AFB near Phoenix is the busiest F-16 base in the world. It houses 56th FW, which consists out of 21th FS, 62th FS, 308th FS, 309th FS, 310th FS and 56th TRS. Also the Royal Singapore Air Force is based here with 425th FS to train their F-16 pilots. So as you can read, there is a lot of activity at this base all day long. Here is an impression of almost 4 hours in the afternoon.

Tucson International Airport : 19 & 20/03/2013

The largest ANG Fighter Wing, 162nd FW, is based at Tucson International Airport. The Fighter wing consists of 148th, 152th and 195th Fighter Sqn's and 162th Training Sqn. The wing has 3 main tasks: defending the homeland (QRA out of DM), supporting visiting units that come to fly in the optimal Arizona weather (DM) and F-16 training. The unit has already trained pilots of 28 countries all around the world that operates F-16's. Some Dutch F-16's are based there as well to train their pilots.

Davis-Monthan : 18 & 19/03/2013

Davis-Monthan AFB is the busiest A-10 base in the world. D-M is the home base of 355th FW which consists out of 355 Training Sqn, 354, 357 and 358 Fighter Sqn. Also 563rd Rescue Group is based at D-M which contains out of 55th and 66th Rescue Sqn (flying with HH-60G Pavehawk) and 79th Rescue Sqn (flying with HC-130P/E). Another unit which is based at D-M is 55th electronic combat group flying with EC-130H Hercules. Off course all the aircraft coming in or leaving AMARG also uses D-M. When we were there, the A-10's were flying a lot (between 22 and 26 A-10's per day). There were 2 Sqn's of F-16's on exchange (175th FS South Dakota and 112th FS Ohio), as well as a U-28 from 319th SOS. Also some nice visitors came in.

AMARG : 18/03/2013

The 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (309 AMARG) is located next to Davis-Monthan AFB. The location was chosen because of Tucson's meagre rainfall, low humidity, and alkaline soil. These conditions make it possible to store aircraft indefinitely with a minimum of deterioration and corrosion. In addition, the soil (called caliche) is hard, making it possible to park aircraft in the desert without constructing concrete or steel parking ramps. . The Group provides customer services including aircraft regeneration (restoring aircraft to flying status), programmed depot-level maintenance, and parts reclamation, in addition to its historic storage and disposal functions. More than 4400 aircraft are stored at AMARG, so it’s a very impressive sight, which is even more impressive from the air. So we went to Double Eagle Aviation and hired a cessna with pilot for one hour and flew over the site to take some nice pictures.

Phoenix Mesa-Gateway : 17/03/2013

Because of the cancellation of Luke airshow we went to have a look at former Williams Gateway AFB in Phoenix. This airport always has great visitors on Sunday. This Sunday we had 6 Marine Corps Harriers from Yuma that made a fuelstop between 2 missions and 2 Navy Hornets made a fuelstop on route to El Centro. So a Sunday afternoon well spend at the fence of Williams Gateway.

El Centro - Airshow

Due to budget sequestration in February, the news reached the world that from 1 April all US military participation at airshows or events will be cancelled, so a lot of the events itself will be cancelled as well. Fortunately El Centro (together with Yuma the week before) was the sole military airshows remaining this year (so far). Despite the airshow continued a lot of items cancelled the weeks before the event. Still some very interesting participants were at a very sunny and hot Saturday in El Centro. In the flying display the military displays were a RAF Apache, a US Marines MV-22B, a US Navy Rescue MH-60 from NAS Fallon and off course the Blue Angels!! In the static display there were an MV-22B, F/A-18B, F/A-18E, F-5E, CH-46, RAF Apache and a T-34. Off course there were some civilian participants too.

Rainbow Canyon / NAS North Island : 11-15/03/2013

On Monday 11 March we drove by car from Las Vegas to Palmdale via Death Valley. When we approached the border of the US Navy China Lake training area, we saw 2 super bugs performing simulated attacks on a small village. We stopped to have a look and after their exercise they came over low level and waved to us with their wings!! We continued our trip and 15 minutes later we stopped at the scenic point near the Father Crowley monument. 2 minutes after we had arrived, we saw a Growler passing through the valley and we were all stunned watching this without cameras in our hands... Luckily a super bug followed soon after and we could catch this one. Apparently this was the entry point for the training area... half an hour later a hornet passed through the valley the other way round!! In San Diego we went to Conorado beach on Thursday 14 and Friday 15 March for about 1 to 2 hours each day. There was some nice traffic making approaches on the runway. On Friday there was a stored hornet making a test flight and 3 different Greyhounds came in!!

Nellis - Red Flag trips/2013/3 : 07/03/2013

On our first day in the States we went to Nellis to see the participants of Red Flag trips/2013/3. There were a lot of interesting participants, but due to runway changes not everything could be photographed. As the weather was cloudy it was not perfect, but due to the light ground there was still a good lighting. Participants that day were EA-6B and EA-18G's from the US Navy, 2 B-2, 2 KC-135's, 1 EC-130H, 12 Shawn F-16's, 6 Langley F-22's from the US Air Force. External participants were USAFE F-15E's, RAF Typhoons and Tornado's and a RAAF Wedgetail. And off course the local agressors were playing as well.

Florennes : 20/02/2013

As there was nice weather that day we went back to Florennes after a long time since the TLP has moved in 2009. The local F-16's were flying very well with a lot of touch and go's. Two based F-16's departed to Kleine Brogel with big external fuel tanks, to depart to Afghanistan the next week. In the morning there was simulated QRA scramble with 2 KB F-16's and a Dijon Alpha jet. The alpha jet was "forced" to land in Florennes. In the afternoon a US Army UH-60A made a low pass over the runway on course to Chiévres and a KB F-16 made some touch and go's. To finish, Grat did a practice display just before sunset.