Bye Bye Alouette II

 

 

Text and pictures Serge Van Heertum  - S.B.A.P. ©

 

   

 

09-09-09, a sunny afternoon at Bierset Airbase… On the flight line the 3 last venerable Alouette II are awaiting their ultimate flight under the Belgian Defence colours. A few months ago, in March 2009, the Belgian authorities decided to end the career of the helicopter and proposed to sell them on the free market. The 23 helicopters are now sold to a civil company and they will continue to fly in an exotic country : Madagascar…

On the afternoon of 09-09-09, a ceremony was held, to say goodbye to these splendid machines. A speech was held by the base commander Colonel Robert Brecx, remembering all what the Alouette II did during 50 years of services without any major problem, proof of the high quality and disponibility of the French build helicopter. After the speech in presence of Mister Pieter De Crem, Minister of Defence, a souvenir patch was given to all the personal of the Alouette II as a mark for the great job they did till the end. Finally an ultimate flight was performed by the 3 last operational machines and the guest could a last time appreciate the elegance of this rotary flying machine.
The day ended with a drink where all the members of the Alouette II community could talk about their memories and meet with old friends…

 

The last 3 aircraft and their crew :

 

A69 (8200 flt hrs) :

Lt Avi Philippe Debart

Lt Avi Yvan Monie

 

A61 (8200 flt hrs)

Cpt Avi Michel Devillet

Cdt Avi Jacques Mugens

 

A64 (8700 flt hrs)

Maj Avi Benoît Gérard

Lt Avi Hudziad Pascal

 

 

The A61 The 3 last Alouette II awaiting their ultimate flight
   
Colonel Robert Brecx during his speech Mister Pieter De Crem, Belgian Minister of Defence
   
The honoured Alouette II-team The Alouette II personal receiving the commemoration patch
   
Thierry "Cam" Camberlin is the pilot who made the very last operational flight Formation in the sunny afternoon
   
Some beautifull formations to show a last time this elegant helicopter
   
Back to the flight line
   
Some hovering turns...
   
Couple of centimeters before last landing.
Bye bye Alouette II...

 

 

The early years

Text : Serge Van Heertum  - S.B.A.P. ©       Pictures : Serge Van Heertum, SBAP collection, Wing-Heli

 

At the beginning the Air Observation Post (AOP created in 1947) was under the control of the Belgian Air Force, but in 1954, the authorities decided to transform the AOP into « Light Aviation » under the control of the Belgian Army.

In 1959 the headquarters were looking for a new machine to replace the Piper Cub L18c. The rumour went that the planes would be replaced by a helicopter, making it the first time the Belgian Light Aviation would fly a rotary wing machine.

The 2 competitors were the Bell 47 and the French build Alouette II. Soon the better performances of the second one, made the authorities decide to choose the SA-313B Alouette II from Sud Aviation equipped with an “Artouste” engine. A first order was placed for 3 machines and the A1 to A3 where delivered on 26 october 1959. A year later, a second order (2 helicopters) and a third one (22 helicopters) was placed between the Belgian government and the French constructor. In 1961 11 more Alouette II were ordered. At this time the total was 39 Alouette II under the Belgian national colours principally based in Germany.

In 1967, two more batches of Alouette II equipped with the more powerful “Astazou” engine (SA318C this time) were ordered, one of 17 (A40 to A56) machines and another one of 25 (A57 to A81).

 

The early years Medevac
   
Note the Belgian roundel under the body Observation mission

 

During the early years, demonstrations teams were showing the extraordinary capablities of this light helicopter. Some were official, others were not. In 1965 the first official team was the “Red Pitch” originating from the 16th Squadron based at Bützweilerhof in Germany. Shortly after the birth of the “Red Pitch”, the 17th Squadron also decided to form a demonstration team, better known as the “Blue Bees”. Both teams have performed their demonstrations during various airshows, but in 1971 the authorities decided to keep only one official team…

The “Blue Bees” remained and the team has changed regularly from squadron (16th, 17th and 18th) during the years .  This demonstration team was definitively disbanded after the 1979 season.

 

 

   
   
   
   
   
   
Unofficial team at Beauvechain during the late 1980's

 

During all these years, the Alouette II performed many operational missions in Belgium but also in other countries.
 

1960-1962  Congo and Ruanda-Urundi during the events till the independence.

1964-1967  Participation in the Antarctic missions at Roi Baudouin station.

1978           Operation “Red Bean” during the Kolwezi crisis.

1988           Morrocco during a giant grasshopper invasion,.

1989           SAMU Medevac stand by during the summer season in the Namur area.

1992-1993  Operation “Restore Hope” in Somalia (ground protection, Medevac…)

1993           Rwanda : Operation UNAMIR under the United Nations flag

1999           Royal sight seeing of the Belgian castels located in the Ardennes.

 

This is of course only a short overview of the most important Alouette II deployements.

 

1964-1967 : Alouette II in Antarctic missions
   
1992-1993 : Somalia : Operation " Restore Hope".  Note the MAG gunnery mounting to provide  self protection
   
The white scheme and UN markings in 1993 for the operation UNAMIR Camera flight for a television broadcast

 

In 1992, the new ordered helicopters Agusta A109 Hirundo became operational slowly taking over  the tasks once performed by the Alouette II. These last ones playing a new role within the Air Force.
The 32 “Artouste” equipped helicopters left were retired and the remaining  “Astazou” machines were used from this time on for helicopter-pilot training based at the Light Aviation School at Brasschaat. They were also used to perform liaison flights.

In 2003, the education program was modified and the pilot-training was done in collaboration with the French Defence. After their basic formation on Marchetti aircraft, the helicopter pilots move to DAX to perform their helicopter conversion.
Soon the remaining Alouette II were only used for liaison and public relation flights. The last helicopter pilot fulfilling his training on Alouette II received his wings in 2006. After 2006 the school at Brasschaat closed its doors and the remaining Alouette II were transfered to the Wing-Heli at Bierset.
In 2009, the career of the Alouette II ended after 50 years of  excellence…

 

General missions in the 80's
   
1992 : 40 years - 16 Squadron colours 1999 : 40 years - 18 Squadron colours
   
A47 equiped with the inflatable "overseas balloons" Towing
   
A22 : note the big antenna on the top
   
A line of Alouette II at the Heli-Wing at Bierset Landing at Florennes airbase
   
The A69 The pilot's office
   
Preserved machines : the A11 in the Brussels Air Museum and the A46 in the Golden Falcon Historical Center at the Beauvechain airbase

A special walkaround for our modelling friends is also available on our aircraft pages

 

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