Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys © sbap 2014

July 21, National Day, the day where everybody feels like a Belgian in the first place. As every year the royal park and palace was the theatre for the military and civil parade and everyone celebrates this event in his own way. Some going to see the parade and trying to have a glance at our King Philippe in his first year of reign... But the highlight of this parade is without a doubt the aerial part as it is very rare to see so much military aircraft overhead the European capital city.

This year again, thanks to the complacency of M De Crem, Minister of Defence, and the authorities of the Belgian Air Component, our team had the opportunity to take part in this fly-past aboard a Westland Seaking Mk 48 and a C-130H.

After the respective briefings at Koksijde and Melsbroek we boarded our aircraft which proudly wear our national colours. Before start-up there was still a little doubt about the possibility to complete the mission as the weather was not so good with poor visibility and a low ceiling. Although the actual aircraft can fly in almost any kind of weather, the fly-past over Brussels brings such a gathering of various aircraft types that safety is the rule number one.

Nevertheless the Seaking took off at Koksijde at 15.20 hrs and the C-130H took to the air from runway 01 at Brussels at 15.47 hrs. As the weather was less complacency to the north, the actual flight rerouted to the south to line up at Aalst, entry waypoint towards Brussels for all participating aircraft.

The flight of the C-130H was bumpy but not fierce as the ride with the Seaking was quite smooth leading two Alouette III from the Marine flight.

After the fly-past over the rear of the Royal palace as the official grandstand now faces this palace, all the aircraft flew bound to their bases. The C-130H touched down at 17.00 hrs were as the Seaking and Alouette III had their flight back to Koksijde greeted by a beautiful sunshine and the pilots granting us a final tour along the coastline before landing at the base at 17.40 hrs.

Once again a successful mission flown with the customary precision of our military crews.
The end of the day was marked by festivities for the Belgian population who never stops vibrating for our little country.

Thanks for the flight allowances and support to:

- Mr Pieter de Crem, Belgian Minister of Defence
- DG Com team

- ComOpsAir IPR: Ms Sofie Nayaert

- Adjtchef Philippe Van Huyck, Adjt Jozef Vandenbroeck and Adjtchef Wim Verschueren for the organization

- Adj-Major Peter Van Nuffel for his support at Koksijde airbase
- The flight crews and technicians at Koksijde and Melsbroek airbase

Mission briefing (Marc Arys) Preparation of the NH-90 NFH (Marc Arys)
Our Seaking ready for the mission of the day (Marc Arys) On board C-130H (Serge Van Heertum)
Some inside view (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Start up (Serge Van Heertum) Black, Yellow and Red, the National colours (Serge Van Heertum)
Loadmaster (Serge Van Heertum) Important to know (Serge Van Heertum)
Leaving Koksijde airbase (Marc Arys) En route to Brussels (Marc Arys)
Amazing view from the side bulb (Marc Arys) Our left wingman (Marc Arys)
Take off from RNW 01 (Serge Van Heertum) En route for the fly by (Serge Van Heertum)
Bad weather during the mission (Serge Van Heertum) Full concentration in the "Hercules" cockpit (Serge Van Heertum)
Number 2 during the flight (Serge Van Heertum) CH12 as number 2 (Serge Van Heertum)
The leader CH03 (Serge Van Heertum) Formation (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) Real bad conditions (Serge Van Heertum)
Alouette III above Brussels South station (Marc Arys) And the justice palace (Marc Arys)
After Brussels, leaving back to the coast (Marc Arys)
The brand new NH-90 NFH (Marc Arys)

Entering Brussels area (Serge Van Heertum)

(Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum) The formation above Brussels with  North station in the background
 (Serge Van Heertum)

(Serge Van Heertum)

Above the Royal Palace at 16:18 (Serge Van Heertum)
The European council area (Serge Van Heertum) Other formation for the pictures (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) The Seaking pilot office (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) "Plopsaland" park (Marc Arys)
The Belgian coast were the sun was back (Marc Arys) Above the North sea (Marc Arys)
General view of the Belgian coast (Marc Arys) Approaching Koksijde airbase (Marc Arys)
Sadly the Seaking will be shortly a shadow... (Marc Arys) Koksijde abbey (Marc Arys)

The RS04 crew:

- Cdt. Avi. “Papy” Vanfleteren

- Cpt Avi. “Jarno” Blancke

- Flight engineer “Ronny” Douchy
(Marc Arys)

The RS05 for scramble stand by (Marc Arys)
Some fields on the way back to Melsbroek airbase (Serge Van Heertum) The Van Ham castle (Serge Van Heertum)
Steenokkerzeel (Serge Van Heertum) Entering the Brussels airport area (Serge Van Heertum)
Few seconds before lading...mission is over (Serge Van Heertum) Cdt Avi Thierry Fabre accomplished his 21st National Day...Great! (Jef Pets)

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