Belgian National Day 2010...the Alpha Jet experience !
Text : Serge Van Heertum
Marc Arys (S.B.A.P.), Serge Van Heertum (S.B.A.P.),
Eddy Devroey (S.B.A.P.), Vincent Pécriaux (Les Ailes Militaires Belges)
The Belgian National Day has always been a popular succes and certainly the air parade above Brussels is the occasion to see a panel of Belgian Air Component aircrafts.
This year our team was granted the opportunity to participate in the air parade and make a photoshoot session on Alpha Jet. Our dream finally came true !
After the necessary steps like the medical examination, the preparation of the survival equipment and a safety briefing on board of an Alpha Jet, the flight day arrived.
Beauvechain Airbase, July 21 at 13:00 local time, we attended the general briefing. One of the most important parts was of course the meteo and sadly the grey sky was confirmed but cloud level was ok and not too much rain foreseen during the flight.
14:00 local time saw a specific briefing for the Alpha Jet pilots and backseaters given by the leader of the formation Cdt. Avi. Etienne “Cux” Culot.
Our general callsign : Smoke (Smoke 11 being the lead). Overview of the 3 possible navigation routes, one north of Brussels, one south and an alternate IFR in case of real bad weater conditions and our positions within the formation (important for us to know what kind of pictures we will able to take). After fine tuning questions, everebody went to flightline and fitted the needed equipement : G-suit, May west, leg straps… And then on into the cockpit with the help of the crew chief.
15:25 local time, everybody ready and correctly strapped, start up of the engines !
All verifications done, all is running smooth and we are ready for taxi.
Taxi with 7 aircraft (6 for the fly past and 1 spare) to the holding point and waiting for the clearance to line up on runway 22.
Lining up 2 x of 3 aircraft followed by the spare. Take-off of the lead aircraft at 15:40 sharp, followed by the other aircraft at 10 seconds interval.
15:40 : "Smoke 11, cleared for take-off".
Our route was going to take us via the northern path, heading out through Heist-op-den-Berg. During the first navigation leg the smokesystems were tested. A bit later our formation turned left towards the Sint-Niklaas area and here we met the F-16's from Florennes and Kleine Brogel.
Abeam Sint-Niklaas we turned south towards Gent and rapidly we passed the C-130’s, the Embraer and the Airbus A330, this latter participating for the first time to the fly past.
On the last leg we lined up on the final heading taking us over Aalst. This is the key point were all the aircraft formations have to fly over and ready themselves for the flight overhead Brussels, i.e. correct formation and planned height.
Our navigation was done at 900 ft and after passing the Siai Marchetti formation we descended to 700 ft.
The Alpha Jet formation was, as usual, the first to fly over the Royal Palace at 16:16 local time and opened the air parade smoking the national colours.
It was a wonderfull sensation to make a pass above 100.000 spectator showing the Belgian colours in a perfect formation !
Mission accomplished, flight back to Beauvechain airbase for an arrow formation pass. Luckily for us (as our flight lasted a little bit longer) we had to hold in the vicinity of Schaffen awaiting the clearance for our pass overhead Beauvechain, because the aircraft participating in the fly past also flew over Beauvechain. Once the area cleared we headed towards the airbase and made a final smoke pass in a slight left turn -this smoke pass also allowed the smoketanks to be emptied before landing.
Then on to echelon left, break, right hand downwind runway 22, base leg, coming in on final and landing… in all our flight lasted about one hour in this fantastic training aircraft
Back on the apron, getting out of the planes and congratulations between the pilots, crew chiefs and backseaters.
But is was not over yet. All backseaters were to gather in the middle of the apron to get the traditional shower from the firebrigade.
Do also have a look at the report on the BAHA site :
21st of July air parade
It was in one word a splendid and incredible day and therefore we would like to thank :
Mister Pieter De Crem, Minister of Defence, for granted us this flight
Kol. Avi. Peter “Patja” Stams, CO of Comopsair IPR, for his support
Comopsair IPR team for the follow up and their usual kindness
Cdt. Avi. Etienne “Cux” Culot, leader and all our pilots (Belgian and French)
and crew chiefs for their help and safety briefing
The Medical and Survival unit for their precious help.
|Safety briefing with the crew chiefs (Vincent Pécriaux)|
|Busy to strap in the backseat (Serge Van Heertum)||In the backseat (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Fully ready and run up (Eddy Devroey)||On taxi (Eddy Devroey)|
|Holding point (Serge Van Heertum)||Ready for line up (Marc Arys)|
|Waiting the take off clearance (Serge Van Heertum)||the second box on the treshold (Marc Arys)|
|Take off at 15:40 local time (Eddy Devroey)||first left turn in Heist-op-den-Berg area (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Posing with the Airbus A330 (Serge Van Heertum)||Just near Gent (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Smoke 14 in the wing (Serge Van Heertum)||Entering Brussels (Serge Van Heertum)|
|The formation near the Koekelberg basilica (Serge Van Heertum)||Smoke on ! (Marc Arys)|
|Near the north station of Brussels (Marc Arys)||National colours over the Royal Palace (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Reflects ! (Serge Van Heertum)||Mission accomplished, back to Beauvechain (Marc Arys)|
|Close formation (Marc Arys)||Above the Alpha Jet apron (Marc Arys)|
|Some pictures of the leader during the holding (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Like a dolfin (Marc Arys)||Back in close formation for the last pass (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Above Beauvechan runway... (Serge Van Heertum)||...and smoke on ! (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Salute to Beauvechain airbase (Eddy Devroey)||After the pass (Marc Arys)|
|Last turn before tactical break formation (Serge Van Heertum)||For the break...top (Marc Arys)|
|Top ! (Marc Arys)||In final for runway 22 (Serge Van Heertum)|
|Smoke 14, clear to land ! (Marc Arys)||Landing (Eddy Devroey)|
|Full breaks (Eddy Devroey)||Back to the apron under the crew chiefs marshaling (Eddy Devroey)|
|Mission accomplished ! (Eddy Devroey)||The backseaters shower ! (Vincent Pécriaux)|
|The pilots : Smoke 12, 17, 15, 16, 13, 11, 14 (Eddy Devroey)||SBAP team : when the dream came true (Eddy Devroey)|
The pilots :
Smoke 11 : Cdt Etienne "Cux" Culot
Smoke 12 : Cpt Christophe "Pon²" DEPONT
Smoke 13 : Cpt Sébastien "Bad" GAME
Smoke 14 : Cpt Philippe "Che" CHEVALIER
Smoke 15 : Cpt Corentin "Reggio" LEVEAU
Smoke 16 : Cpt David "Maïté" FONTANEAU
Smoke 17 : Cpt Stéphane "G²" LAMBERT
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