Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum & Laurent Bladt - Translation: Marc Arys   © sbap 2017

Every year, the parade for the National Day is given a particular theme. Seen the circumstances, this year's theme was "Proud to serve", emphasizing on the commitment of our soldiers at the service of the population in Belgium and in the various operational theaters abroad on the ground, the sea and in the air. Aviation being our main interest, we will be focusing on the fly past in particular.
First of all, the setup of the scenario, well three scenarios to be honest: fair weather, Belgian weather with its "Drache Nationale " (National Pouring Rain) and awful weather. Luckily, 2017 saw the fair weather scenario being played for the pleasure of the spectators, who could admire 35 airplanes in about 4 and a half minutes overhead Brussels.
The fly past was 'opened' traditionally by the Alpha Jets trailing the Belgian national colours at exactly 16.20hrs, the foreseenTOT (Time on Target). Followed by the F-16, including FA132 of the 1st Squadron, celebrating its centenary, Embraer Xingu, Siai-Marchetti SF.260, Agusta A109, Seaking Mk.48, Alouette III, Airbus Helicopter NH-90 TTH and NFH, C-130H Hercules, Embraer 135, Falcon 900 and to conclude, the Airbus A321.
But those 04.30 minutes of show, request an acute organization in the skies of the capital city, especially regarding the various altitudes, speeds and flight axis. The Park of Brussels was indeed divided in three axis : the slow flying aircraft the nearest to the palace, the fast ones at the "rue de la Loi" and the third axis right at the center if the Park. Finally, as to give an aspect of continuity, all aircraft had to fly at predetermined altitudes. Thanks to a glitch free organization, the 21 July fly past overhead Brussels was a success.
The SBAP-team was given the opportunity to take part in this event... Laurent Bladt flew with the "Red Devils" to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the team founded by his grandfather, and personally, I came to witness the work of the crews and the necessary coordination of this impeccable fly past aboard a NH-90 TTH.
At the base of Beauvechain, we first had a look at the Alpha Jet, flown in from Cazaux and readied for the opening of the fly past. Then, on to the helicopters for the briefing. It was aboard RN-08 that I had the opportunity to immortalize the navigation towards Brussels and I have to admit it, the NH-90 is a superb flying machine.
The NH-90 TTH RN-08 and RN-05 were the first to take off at 15.35hrs exactly. Navigation took us to the north of Waterloo, Tubize, allowing us to round Brussels Capital City, which could be seen in the distance. On to the CTR of Chièvres and going up North to Geraardsbergen and Gent, followed by a right turn towards Aalst, the entry point for the capital city zone.
In between, in the vicinity of Gent and Merelbeke, we met up with the NH-90 NFH from Koksijde, and this threesome took the direction of Brussels.
During the navigation we flew with opened doors, but once on the presentation axis, all had to be closed and clean. The passage overhead Brussels allowed us to recognize various renowned monuments and after the pass we headed already towards Beauvechain. Soon after, the NH-90 NFH left us back to Koksijde. As all other aircraft, including our NH-90, were meant to do a fly past overhead Beauvechain, we had the occasion to fly a holding pattern at the edge of the "Brabant Flamand" and "Brabant Wallon", allowing us to have a good look at superb landscapes. Personally, I will never get tired of seeing our Earth and country from above.
After the passes overhead Beauvechain and the landing of the Alpha Jet and Marchetti, it was our turn to enter the landing pattern. Taken off as first, we landed back at the base as the last aircraft having flown for 01.35hrs.
Thanks to the commitment of the pilots, crews, technicians and the personnel of the Air Force, the 2017 fly past was once again successful and made the hearts of the Belgian population beat in unison. These latter showing regularly their support to our servicemen and our Defence.
Through those lines, SBAP wishes to thank heartily Colonel J.H. and the whole team at ComOpsAir IPR for the flight authorizations and facilities granted during our stay at Beauvechain airbase (Thanks "Smurf"!).
We also would like to thank the "Red Devils" in general and "Papy" in particular, to have taken care of the grandson of "Bobby" and finally the crew of RN-08 for this successful flight and especially "Voske" who was in charge of me.


 The fly past aircraft order, the join-up map and the taget axes
 The Alpha Jet ready to open the Brussels fly past
 The Agusta fleet also waiting for action
 The NH-90 TTH will be the first at take off
 My loadmaster "Voske" Line up on the runway 22R
 RN-05 take off The RN-05 join us for take off and the "Red Devils" at holding point
 Here we go for 1 hour 35 minutes of flight The control tower side of Beauvechain airbase
 Leaving the base The Meerdael Wood area
 Go for a long navigation with the number two A109 shadow
 The "Red Devils" starting their navigation The ST 24 as reserve
 The leader looking... Loose navigation to the entry point
 Likeable small country house A view from the cargo door
 Earth view from the sky ... what a pleasure
 Rixensart railway station
  The Lion's Mound in Waterloo
  Above Tubize
 The typical farmhouses of the region
 Brussels bypass with the atomium at the center of the picture
  The summer colours
  A little selfie before the pass above Brussels
 Right turn and join-up with the NH-90 NFH to take the fly past axis
 The RN-04 from Koksijde airbase TTH & NFH posing toegether
  All doors closed just before the capital
 Crossing the E40 highway in the vicinity of Ternat Approaching Brussels and the famous Atomium
The Basilica of Koekelberg Exceeded by the Red Devils
The "Tour & Taxi" area with Brussels Airport in the background "City 2" shopping complex (Blue roof left), INNO galery 
and the Botanic Garden in the back
 The Saint Catherine church, The Saint Michel and Gudule cathedral and the Mount of Arts area
 Our target, the Park of Brussels The Parliament left and the "16 rue de la Loi" on the right
Leaving the target with the Belgian TV broadcast antenna tower The European Quarter
 The Jubilee Park Exceeded by the Hercules this time
 The tramway museum of Tervuren How to distort the nature (Near Tervuren)
 The nature: the colours... ...and the amazing forms
 The beauty of some culture The Meerdael Wood ecoduc
 Start the holding
 The well adapted colours As far as the eye can see ... the horizon
 An intruder in the field The Oude Heverlee crossroad
  Agricultural geometry
 The "Red Devils" has landed Mission accomplished for "Bobby" Granson
 Preparing for Beauvechain fly past Above the main runway
 Above the B28 parking RN-05 preparing to land
 Beautiful orchards General view of the airfield

Embraer 135 on landing
 Crossing the Runway 04/22
 A last pass above Beauvechain village and the Saint Sulpice church This way for landing...
 The security fence markings Few second before landing at 17:10 local time
 The Agusta A109 going back to their parking South of the base For us, the parking was directly at 18 Squadron North of the base
 RN-05 on taxi The leader was the RN-08
 Many thanks to the RN-08 crew for this experience
 National Fly Past is over...once again!
 Some more demontration for the family day A109BA low pass
 To close the day, a last display from our national team the "Red Devils"
 "Paolo" "Meel"
 "Jean" "Papy"
 "Devil" forever...
 Back to the parking after the display The last one...the number 4
 Conclusion of a fantastic day..."Proud to Serve"...but also "Proud to be a Belgian citizen"

Reports Menu - Homepage