Belgian National Day   
July 21, 2006


Photopage SIAI SF260 Marchetti - 1


Text & Photos from the cockpit : ęSerge VAN HEERTUM - S.B.A.P.
Other photographs courtesy of ęDanny CARELS





At 13.00' hrs we arrived at the 5th Squadron. 13.30' hrs all pilots are attending the general briefing.

First we have the meteo-briefing followed by a general overview of the flypast over Brussels. Meteorological situation is "blue", which means the flypast will be held under a hot sun, without the usual 'drache nationale' (national rainshowers). Next, each team assisted seperately to an individual and specific briefing (Marchetti, Fouga, Alpha Jet and Xingu) regarding the mission.

With the Marchetti we will perform the flypast over the royal palace in a close Double "Vic"-formation with 6 aircraft.

2 spares are also foreseen, in case of a replacement should problems occur, and will accompany us till Aalst. The flightplan is expounded and our formation will be flying between 800ft and 1.300 ft. Navigation is executed in a "fluid" formation till Aalst after which the formation will proceed to the close Double "Vic".


After Brussels, a flight over Gembloux, 'godcity' of the 5 th Squadron and then back to Beauvechain airbase for 3 formation flights - Double Vic, Diamond and Arrow, break and landing. Everything being written down, we make our way to the equipment section for our parachute and headset.


I'm set and ready to go !


Together with 'my' pilot, we head for today's aircraft, ST34, in it's shiny yellow livery, glittering in the burning sun. Whilst "Tcholle" does the external checks, a mechanic helps me getting into the aircraft and strapps me in. My heart is beating like hell, what a feeling !

Tcholle, having joined me in the cockpit, takes us through the ckeck-list and emergency procedures. Everything seems all right and we receive permission to start up.  Engine checks and we are taxiing towards runway 22. During this taxi, flight control checks are done.

Holding point runway 22. Line up of the 8 Marchettis at 15.05' hours. Cleared for take-off and off we go with 7 seconds separation time between each aircraft. ST34 is airborne at 15.08' hrs for a 2 hours flight !


Navigating via Heist op den Berg, we take heading 264░ towards Willebroek, south of Antwerp and then heading 288░ till Maldegem. We fly north of Gent, turn to the left southbound to Ruiselede and then heading 106░ to Aalst. Close Double Vic formation is set, heading 109░ straigth to Brussels.

Over the royal palace in an impeccable close formation at 800 ft and 16.19' hrs as expected. Professional workmanship for the joy of all the spectators on the ground.


We leave Brussels behind turning left and heading 060░ towards Gembloux. Flight over Gembloux in a close Double Vic formation with 8 aircraft (the 2 spare having rejoined  us).


After Gembloux, back to Beauvechain for the 3 formation flights as foreseen at the briefing.

17.10' hrs - Break and landing as first aircraft on the parallel runway 22. Taxi to the apron of the 5th Squadron, Shut down of the engine !
Mission completed succesfully !


For me it was again an unforgettable flight, as all the previous flights I have made with the Belgian Air Component. Through these few words I would like to thank 'my' pilote, who made me live 2 intense hours altogether in a congenial and aeronautical way.


Thanks for all "Tcholle" and many happy landings to you !


And now, on to the pictures :


    "Tcholle" Deroubaix preparing his aircraft
    "Serge" strapped in and waiting ...
Engine running
    On taxi
Holding runway 22 at Beauvechain (EBBE)   Lined up...
... and away ...   The Fort of Breendonk
Flying a 'fluid' formation
    Brussels ahead, closing the formation...


... and flying two "Vic" formations ...

    ... overhead Brussels

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