Jean-Marie Cuvelier was a member of the Belgian Air Force meteorological
wing and during his career he did some special missions. In 1957 he was
detached at Butzweilerhof in Germany for the Light Aviation of the Belgian
army. During this period Jean-Marie had the opportunity to take some
pictures of interesting planes, Belgians but also some foreign visitors. The
publication of his pictures is also the occasion to make a little history of
this historic airfield.
was built in 1911 nearby Köln. In its early days this airfield saw many
manifestations and presence of well-known aviation icons like Louis Blériot
or Léon Delagrange. When the Imperial Flying Station and an associated
flying school were founded at the airfield in 1912, all civilian aircrafts
had to move to nearby Köln-Merheim. Some great pilots like Manfred Von
Richthofen, Werner Voss or Gerhard Fieseler did their first flights over
there. After the First World War, in 1926, the airfield was converted as
civilian airport. Thanks to its central location it soon became the second
largest airport in Germany, after Berlin-Tempelhof. On 25 July 1936 a new
representative and modern terminal building was opened, with many monumental
elements of the National-Socialist architecture. With the outbreak of World
War II civilian use of Butzweilhof ended temporarily. On May 10th,
1940, the Junkers JU-53-3M towing DFS-230 gliders took off from
Butzweilerhof with target the Eben-Emaël fortifications. After the war the
airfield, now much smaller in size was used by Allied and later NATO forces.
The location became known as RAF Butzweilerhof when the RAF moved in
somewhere in August 1951. The RAF authorities stationed two squadrons of
Gloster Meteor NF11 (68 Sqn and 87 Sqn). The RAF left the airfield on 27
Belgian “Butz”… The Belgian Headquarter decided to take position at
Butzweilerhof in 1953 and detached there the two first Auster Mk VI of the
16 AOP Squadron (still under the Aeronautique Militaire authority). End of
1953, the Auster Mk VI is replaced by the Piper L-18c acquired thru the
Mutual Defense Aid Program (MDAP) established by the United States. On April
1st, 1954 the 15th AOP and 16 AOP squadrons are placed
under the Belgian army authorities and became officially the Light Aviation
of the Belgian Army. The Belgian Light Aviation was growing along the years
and in 1959 the famous helicopter Alouette II was acquired and equipped
three squadrons (16th, 17th and 18th).
Later on Butzweilerhof some Alouette II presentation teams along the years
saw the light…
In 1965 the “Red Pitch” from 16 Esc Lt Avi
In 1968 the “Blue Bees” from 17 Esc Lt Avi
In 1970 the “Larks” from 18 Esc Lt Avi
This was a little bit too much regarding the financial and supporting
aspect. In 1971, only the “Blue Bees” remain and each year the team moved
from squadron to give the opportunity at the three light aviation squadrons
to represent Belgium during international manifestations.
In 1980, due to the economic crisis and recession the “Blue Bees” are
disbanded and never flew again.
The new restructuration plan of the Belgian Defence established in 1993
makes that all the squadrons and the 255 maintenance company are set under
the new “Light Aviation Group”. In 1995 all the Belgian squadron and
personal left definitively Germany and the Butzweilerhof installations. This
situation was initiated by the German reunification process started in 1989.
Belgian where the last users of this airfield that definitively close his
door. Currently the installations remain and a museum was opened to remind
the past of this prestigious historic airfield.