Text: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys  © sbap 2016
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Patrick Brouckaert, Philippe Decock, Serge van Oosterzee & Marc Arys
 

The last International SAR Meet organized at Koksijde dates back to 2010. Six years later, it is once again this coastal base which hosted this exercise gathering various nations. This exercise tends to oppose the search and rescue helicopter crews through different missions and team "games".
There were a.o. swimming pool exercises simulating rescues in an aquatic environment or some kind of "Highlander" Scottish games. For this 2016 edition the specialized press was not invited within the scenes and the various magazines had to make do with the "Spotters Day" held on October 11.
As a well-known exercise, it was possible to follow the confirmation of the participants on the social Medias and during the weeks the list kept on growing to about 10 participating countries, including Belgium. So this event, gathering the best crews in this category of military aid to the nation, was eagerly awaited. Foreseen participating countries: France (NH-90 Caiman & EC725 Caracal), Spain (AS 332B Super Puma), Norway (Seaking Mk.43), the Netherlands (NH-90 NFH), Latvia (a première with a Mil-Mi 17), Portugal (EH-101), Poland (Mil-Mi 8), Germany (Seaking Mk.43), Austria (Alouette III) and Belgium (Alouette III - NH-90 NFH & Seaking Mk.48). In short, a beautiful board with quite some rare helicopters to be seen in Belgium. A couple of days before the start of the exercise and the "Spotters Day" awaited by some 350 people, various participants were defecting for operational or technical reasons. 60% cancelled their participation at the start of the event; really surprising for a so big exercise.
Only four nations were left on Tuesday, Poland, Austria, Germany and Belgium. But no Polish roundels were seen during the "Spotters Day" at Koksijde airbase and after some gained information's we heard that the Polish crew had confirmed their departure on Sunday but still had not rejoined the home base of the exercise!
So the SAR Meet 2016 went on with 70% of defected crews... To my knowledge, this was never seen before...
The "Spotters Day" was enjoyable and well organized for the spotters and the specialized press members thanks to Adj Jo Vanden Broeck and the ComOpsAir IPR team. Seen the actual circumstances, a little security search of the photo bags was mandatory but in a relaxed atmosphere. The sun was present and in the back of the photographers which was appreciated to picture the left-over participants. But deception was quite present as some visitors travelled a long distance (the Netherlands, United Kingdom or France) to see only five helicopters in action.
Noteworthy was the presence of the Air Support Unit of the Belgian Federal Police, who gratified us with two demonstrations with their Mc Donnell-Douglas MD-900.

 


The unique coin edited to commemorate the Belgian Seaking

 In fine, this was a pleasant day, talking to the other team members or magazine representatives to let the time pass during the long "dead times", while the helicopters flew their sorties.
To conclude, we can assert that the 2016 edition was not quite successful regarding the participations and finally, it was the Belgian 40 Squadron with their Seaking Mk.48 which won the International Search and Rescue 2016 trophy.
Well done guys ! The Seaking still being a strong and reliable mount which will certainly be missed within a few months after 40 years of loyal and dedicated services.

 
 The sun rises on Koksijde above the morning mist
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The sunlight begins to illuminate the coast
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 The RN03 basking in the morning sun
(© Serge Van Heertum)
First morning flight above Koksijde
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 Morning mission for the RN03...
(© Serge Van Heertum)
...and back home few hours later
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 40 years of servicibility for the only one...the Seaking!
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 RS02 is waiting the visitors of the day
(© Serge Van Heertum)
The 40 years logo
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 The MD-900 of the Federal Police Air Support
(© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Patrick Brouckaert)
 
Koksijde tower, clear coasting
(© Serge Van Heertum)
 
The International SAR Meet 2016 participating helicopters
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Philippe Decock) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Philippe Decock) (© Marc Arys)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Philippe Decock) (© Marc Arys)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Philippe Decock) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge van Oosterzee) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge van Oosterzee)
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Philippe Decock) (© Philippe Decock)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
(© Serge van Oosterzee) (© Serge van Oosterzee)
 
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge van Oosterzee)
(© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum)
 (© Serge Van Heertum) (© Serge van Oosterzee)
  
Seaking Mk.48 tribute... (© Patrick Brouckaert)
(© Patrick Brouckaert) (© Patrick Brouckaert)

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