Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: David Niemegeerts  © sbap 2015

Red Devils last flight 2015

The devil has his traditions during Halloween, and the Red Devils also have theirs, such as their last flight, marking the end of the airshow season.

Tradition was respected on October 20th at Beauvechain Air Force Base, where family and friends were gathered to gaze at the skies one last time. The weather was quite gray, and the cloud ceiling obliged the “Reds” to show their low-altitude display, as they were limited to a ceiling of 1700ft.

But high or low, we cannot do anything else but admire our national team who, as the fans know all too well, had to finish the season with only 3 pilots, due to force majeure. This goes to show that we should not confound the “Red Devils” and the “Diables Rouges/Rode Duivels”, who manoeuver at a much lower altitude… isn’t it, “Papy”?

After the flight a few pictures were taken as memorabilia, of the storage of the planes in the hangars, and finally, a toast with a speech and some gifts to boot. It was the ideal opportunity to take some steps towards the future, and to ask the team what the outlook for 2016 will be. The enthusiasm concerning our ambassadors within the General Staff is such that the 2016 season will pursue the team’s activities (unless otherwise noted), with some changes, as it is always with aerobatic teams. The perspective showed that “Paolo” will stay leader, “Daffy” will also continue his mission within the team. The major change will be the departure of “Reggio” who will continue his job as instructor until the end of his term, after which he will pursue a career in civil aviation.

This means that it was a great opportunity to do a little interview with “Reggio”, and ask him what the challenges were for 2015, what were the most beautiful moments of the season, and what his future will bring.

“It is obvious that the biggest challenge was to alter the program of the team from 4 to 3 planes at the last minute. Once the news of “Papy’s” unavailability as number 4 was announced, we gathered around the table, concocted a new program for 3 planes, unwillingly accepting the downtime that normally should escalate into the solo. But as always, it’s safety first. Once the program was decided, we did some practices, and called together the committee of the General Staff for the acceptance of the program. It was very short and very intense to adapt, but we made it.”

« I cannot point out any specific moments, they were all great. The atmosphere at the shows, the reception by the organizers, the enthusiasm of the audience, in short all those things that make the world of airshows are very particular. If I need to recall one, it would be Texel in Holland, Rivolto for the 55th anniversary of the Frecce and finally Sainte-Maxime, with its unforgettable atmosphere”

“My future will take form depending on the end of my contract, will be oriented towards the civil sector, but I won’t say any more at this time.” 

I would like to personally thank the team and “Reggio” in particular, for the 2015 season they offered to the audience, but also for my own flight with the team towards Texel (NL). “Reggio” being in charge of the organization of my escort, everything went like clockwork. Thanks to all!

This concludes the 2015 season, but the festivities were not at their end yet ...

Being the godfather of the team, and a “Red Devil” at heart, the first leader on Fouga Magister, “Red” Dewaelheyns had organized a dinner with former and new “Red Devils”, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the resurrection of the team on Fouga Magister, which takes us back to 1965. It was the 22nd of October, when “Red” organized this friendly dinner, held in a renowned establishment in Brabant Wallon. The reception and an appetizer brought together new and former Red Devils, some accompanied by their spouses. 
This event and its attendees were also honored by the presence of General Claude Vande Voorde (Chief of Defence Ministry office), General Frédérik Vansina (Chief of the Air Component), Colonel Georges Franchomme (Base Commander Beauvechain) and Colonel Frédérique Givron (CC Air Commander). Let’s not forget the presence of Mr. Ludwig Vandenhove, former mayor of the city of Sint Truiden, and president of the National Defense Commission, who has always been a big fan and supporter of the aerobatic team of the Air Force in his youth.

In short, a moment of friendship, an excellent dinner, and a friendly atmosphere to celebrate the rebirth of the team that flew on Fouga Magister 50 years ago, with some gifts for the host of the day, and his wife. 
And what did we talk about that afternoon? About « Red Devils », aviation, the Air Force, Fouga and Marchetti of course. It was amazing to have a conversation with some true « warhorses », such as « Red » Dewaelheyns, and Joseph Lelotte, who was once upon a time the trusted number 2 of « Red », Paul Christiaens, and Leo Lambermont, who was the last leader on the team to fly on Fouga.

All in all, nothing but joy and happiness, when you are, like myself, a fan of the team and its history. 
I would warmly like to thank “Red” and his wife for this unforgettable invitation.

Now it’s time for some pictures. Are you ready for the last take off of 2015? Let’s party, and drink to a long and beautiful future for the « Red Devils » !
Ready for the last one!
"Didier" "Steven" "Serge"
 Looking for "Duvel" ?
 Complicity Strapping Strap of the leader
  Garde à vous!
 Prepare for the flight "Paolo" looking concentrate
 Run up: ST23 "Paolo" ST34 "Daffy"
ST36 "Reggio"  Red n° 8...2 x 4 ;-)
 And clearance for taxi The last one "Reggio" !
 Holding point And go for the last 2015 display
 The final Landing

Back to the parking 
 Refueling... Technical and PR team, missing on the picture: Danny...
 Plane refueling this time To the hangar for the winter Super PR...Alias "Fifi"
 Sheltered for the winter
50 Years Fouga "Red Devils" dinner
The first "Fouga" leader and the first "Marchetti" leader toegether to celebrate the "Red Devils"
From left to right:
Roger Fagnoul - Jacques Dewaelheyns - Xavier Delbecke - Paul Van Essche
Joseph Lelotte - Wim Van Meerten (KLU)
(Both Coll SBAP)
1965 above and old Red glories today 
 Colonel Frédérique Givron and Colonel Geoges Franchomme With the presence of
General Frederik Vansina and General Claude Vande Voorde
 Ladies "Red Devils" club Janine (Paul Van Essche widow) and Vincianne ("Red" Dewaelheyns daughter)
 Jacques "Red" Dewaelheyns
Devil 1965 to 1966
Joseph Lelotte
Devil 1965 to 1968 + 1970
 Paul Christiaens
Devil 1970 to 1971
Leo Lambermont
Devil 1974 to 1977
 Time for presents: Flowers for Mrs Dewaelheyns... ...and a special fuel tank for "Red"
 The special 50 years "Duvel" and a beautiful picture on canvas
Paul  "Paolo" Leys   Devil 1 Davy "Daffy" Vanhaeren   Devil 2
 Alain "Papy" Collard   Devil 4 Steve "Mag" Malburny   Former Devil 4
 General Fréderik Vansina General Claude Vande Voorde and Mister Ludwig Vandenhove
 The Devils and... ...the Devilettes
 The Devil in chief and his Devilette To be a Devil...friendness for life!  (Alain Collard)
 SBAP secretary Danielle and Stefaan "Stef" Braem former Devil 4 SBAP webmaster Serge talking about...the Red Devils history
(Alain Collard)
The friendship between the past and the present...Many thanks "Red" for this marvelous day
We are all waiting our "Red Devils" for the next season !

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