Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum © sbap 2014

Every year our Dutch neighbors organize the 'Luchtmachtdagen' to show visitors their world of aviation. This year long awaited event was hosted at the Gilze-Rijen airbase which is home for the following squadrons: 
298 Sqn CH-47D Chinook
299 Sqn Technical training helicopter
300 Sqn Eurocopter Cougar and Aérospatiale Alouette III

301 Sqn AH-64D Apache
930 Sqn Technical & electronic maintenance
931 Sqn Basic admin
932 Sqn Logistic 

Arriving early at the base, public was already very present at the various parking lots situated around the base and a good morning walk was due to get to the main entrance, fitted with a huge tent which we can qualify as original as this was an enormous audio-visual panorama of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht in 2014. Very impressive!

This event spans always two days and this is a minimum when looking at the flight program and the size of the static display area.

If you only attend the event for just one day, as for our SBAP team, you will have to make a choice and that is what we did focusing our report on the flight displays, with flying starting from 09.00AM.

So we will give you an overview of eight hours of airshow without the static display or other exhibitions.

Every year the authorities of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht choose a particular theme and this year theme was the "Luchtsteun" - Air Support. Air Support is an important matter for all European air forces given the involvement in different operational theatres such as Afghanistan or Libya. Moreover, the Gilze-Rijen based squadrons are always on the front line with this kind of operations.

But let's go back to the airshow witch started smoothly with the presentation of the Fokker Four team, P-51D Mustang, the Catalina, which sadly had to abort the demonstration due to technical problems on taxi and the Beaver team consisting of a DHC-2 and two T-6 Harvard.

2014 is also the 50th anniversary of the Alouette III entering service with the Koninklijke Luchtmacht. Some 77 Alouette III wore the Dutch colours, but as for today only four remain operational till 2016 or maybe till 2018. It was the occasion to present in an original way this elegant little helicopter, which was quite a technical and commercial success. The Bluebird-team gave a smooth demonstration of this helicopter which did not age during these 50 years of career. Also noteworthy was the presence of an Alouette III from the Austrian Armed Forces, a rare sight.

The show went on with one of the highlights in relation with the air support, the power demonstration! The scenery brought us back to a comparable conflict as there were in Kosovo. The aim was to capture a war criminal to bring him before an international court to be judged for his crimes.


First we had the F-16AM cleaning the zone followed by the arrival of the AH-64D Apache securing it. The first troops were then flown in by CH-47D and Cougar, the remainder being by a C-130H and a pair of CH-47D and Cougar with the necessary vehicles. Suddenly a suspicious civil car is spotted and intercepted, the war criminal is arrested. As this kind of operations does not go without casualties, the wounded men are evacuated by Chinook. The situation eases off and the mission is successfully terminated with all the participating aircraft making a formation fly-by overhead the airbase.

One has also to emphasize that air support not necessary means offensive operations, but can also be used to help necessitating populations. A simple fire safety demonstration by a CH-47D and Cougar equipped with "Bambi-buckets" concluded the "power demo".

After a little break and the arrival of the "Red Arrows", the air show resumed with solo-displays, historical flights and aerobatic teams... Dutch F-16AM and AH-64D with a rain of flares, the Czech Air Force L-159, the Slovakian Mig-29, the Greek Air Force F-16C... On the historical side we had the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, the Spitfire Mk IX and B-25J of the KLU Historical Flight.

The Spanish Air Force was present with its Patrula ASPA flying the Colibri EC-120 and the grand finale with the Red Arrows, celebrating their 50th demo season, with their Hawks wearing a special paint on the vertical fins emphasizing this anniversary.

Let us go back to the uncertain meteorological conditions on Friday. Grey clouds interspersed with some shy rays of sunshine... It was during such a threatening sky that our solo display gave his demonstration and I have to say that, despite the threatening skies, our "Grat" benefited from a few residual sunrays and in combination with the blackening clouds gave the opportunity to shoot some original pictures. I leave it to you...

After this little tour, we already took appointment for 2016 when the first F-35 of the KLU is due to arrive…wait and see.
The SBAP team would like to thank the organizers and Major C. Bakker in particular for our accreditation and access to the press podium which allowed us to reliably and easily fulfill our coverage.

"Fokker Four" team Fokker S-11 Instructor
North American P-51D "Mustang"
Heerflieger Messerschmitt-Blohm-Bolköw Bo-105P1 Solo display
Consolidated PBY "Catalina"
Koninklijke Luchtmacht "Bluebirds" team Aerospatiale Alouette III
Created for the 50 years of service in the KLU

The special 50 years markings

De Havilland Canada DHC-2 "Beaver and North American T-6 "Harvard"
Antonov AN-2 "Colt" solo display
Österreichische Luftstreitkräfte Aerospatiale Alouette III
Air Power Demonstration
Mc Donnell-Douglas KDC-10 pass Really low!
Strike force take off Diana tail from 323 Squadron
Pilatus PC-7 playing an intercepted aircraft
Attack is launched
Arrival of the AH-64D "Apache" to secure the area
First part of the troops with CH-47D "Chinook"
Protected by gunners
Landing heavy transport C-130H
Take off under AH-64D protection
Area is under control and arrival of light vehicles
Suspect vehicle detected by the AH-64D Interception team brought by an Aerospatial "Cougar"
Always heavy armed Vehicle intercepted and the criminal arrested
Injured troops evacuated from the area by a CH-47D
The area remain under troops control
All the aerial task that participate to the power demonstration
F-16AM's are back to their homebase
"Bambi Bucket" demonstration by Aerospatial "Cougar" and CH-47D "Chinook"
Belgian Air Force Westland Seaking Mk.48


Battle of Britain Memorial Flight
Avro Lancaster, Supermarine Spitfire LF IXe (MK356) & Supermarine Spitfire PR IXI (PS915)
Marvelous bomber...isn't it?
Boeing AH-64D "Apache" solo display
The flares effect is always spectacular
KLU solo display pair AH-64D and F-16AM
Break ! Pull up after the break and flares
No more colours for the display, a standard paint scheme
150 flares in on shot!
Drag chute landing Drag chute released
Czech Air Force Aero L-159 Alca solo display
Note the Czech flag at the back cockpit
Flares effect
Belgian Air Force F-16AM solo display... FA 80"Grat"

No words needed, wonderful background and amazing pictures... Good show "Grat"...as usual!
Ejercito Del Aire "Patrula Aspa" Eurocopter EC-120 "Colibri"

A wonderful demonstration with this light helicopter

Slovak Air Force Mikoyan Gurevitch Mig 29AS solo display
Little bit Tumansky smoke...
"Pixel" camouflage

Simply a must in airshow!

Koninklijke Marine NH-90 NFH solo display
First official display in airshow
Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia F-16C solo display
Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historical Flight
Supermarine Spitfire Mk IX & North American B-25J "Mitchell"
Were is the Spitfire?  In your six!
Dutch Hawker Hunter Foundation Hawker Hunter F.6A
Remain the most elegant fighter of the 60's
Schweizer Luftwaffe Boeing F/A-18C solo display
Landing gear down roll Humidity vortex...
Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" Bae Hawk T.1A
With the special 50 years tail...simply beautiful !
Show is over...will be back in 2016 for the "Luchtmachtdagen"

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