Text: Pierre Taquet - Pictures: Pierre Taquet, Philippe Huberlant, Serge van Oosterzee & Anthony Graulus   © sbap 2017
 
For its 40th anniversary, the Sanicole team had indeed assembled a very rich flight program, with a number of top notch aerobatic teams, some quite uncommon in Belgian skies. After the heavy rains, weather conditions were a permanent concern, starting on Friday where rain showers were nearly continuous all over Belgium. In the late afternoon, there was even a concern the Sunset Airshow might have to be cancelled as a whole. Fortunately this was not the case. All pilots and the staff who persevered in these conditions, can be congratulated.

Friday Night Fever
Despite the weather, the public responded in big numbers to this opening event.
Following the September 7 deadline for submittal of proposals, just two days before the show, the "F-16 Replacement" consultation was the talk of the day.
In the large VIP marquee,
Lockheed-Martin had brought along its famous test pilot Billie Flynn, who did the F-35 flight routine at the Paris Airshow last June. When we asked why he did not bring along his plane for a demo, Billie smiled and answered : "Next Year"... Promise recorded ! - the KB Airshow scheduled on September 8 and 9, 2018 will be the perfect date !
In the meantime, a full size F-35 mock-up with Belgian markings was present in the static. An F-35 model (scale 1:10) was also displayed in the VIP tent. It's theft during Sunday night generated anger from its owners and embarrassment of the Belgian officials.

British Aerospace
also brought a strong presence, with on the static side, a full size mock-up of the Eurofighter also wearing Belgian roundels . A high level flight simulator was available to guests, and a 1:10 scale Typhoon model was on display. The company was keen to emphasize on the excellence of the long time Belgian-British fighter connection with the legendary 349, 350 and 609 RAF Squadrons involving strong Belgian presence. At the BAe initiative, a splendid Spitfire Mk IX full size mock-up, with 611 SQN markings (FY-F), was displayed in the middle of the Dinner Room. Just as Lockheed-Martin, British Aerospace had also submitted its stage 1 proposal in due time. Although not complying formally with the deadline for initial proposals, Dassault and the French Government officially expressed their will to develop a fighter cooperation with Belgium based on the Rafale. Consistent with this approach, Dassautl was very much present at the VIP event with a Rafale large model and a large screen display highligting use of virtual reality techniques for efficient maintenance. Of course, their most convincing argument was the truly fantastic flight demo of the Rafale by JC "Marty" Martinez, despite the awful weather conditions on Friday.
SAAB
had earlier withdrawn from the Belgian fighter competition, but was nevertheless represented by a company delegation, a large scale model and a display.
Due to bad weather, the Sunset Airshow program had to be substantially altered, especially for the 'lighter' participants. All flying was limited to "flat" routines with no vertical maneuvers. Stiff timing of the flying slots left few options to fill the gaps of the cancelled demos. For instance, the BLADES four aircraft formation took off at their specified time, then had to circle "on hold" waiting for a weather improvement on the airfield local spot. Subject to a stronger grain... they finally had to land without any demo, as their time slot was elapsed. "At least they could refuel in formation", joked the commentator with philosophy (see picture).
Despite these miserable weather conditions, and thanks to the brave pilots, we still had an airshow, with several memorable displays. One highlight certainly was the composite formation flown to celebrate Tom "Gizmo" De Moortel's final airshow as the official Belgian solo demo pilot. Gizmo's F-16 led the formation including one Frecce Tricolori MB339, one Saudi Hawk, one Aero L-139 of the Breitling Jet Team and one F-5E from the Patrouille Suisse.

Saturday Intermezzo
Contrary to the forecasts, this Saturday event finally benefitted from the best weather conditions of the week-end, being sunny most of the time and nearly no rain. However, a Spotter Day is no full airshow and the rehearsals took place directly on the Sanicole area for most of the teams... except for the Red Devils who gave a splendid full show. In evidence on the flight line were the superbly decorated Rafale of "Marty" and an accompanying two-seat Rafale.
The RAF Typhoon was grounded, with curious green tape sealing the cockpit... from spurious Belgian weather, who knows ?
This was also the opportunity to see for the first time the Spanish Patrulla ASPA on EC 120 Colibri and the Saudi Hawks from close by, together with their own 'ground' vehicles. Quite disappointing but the Patrouille Suisse and the Hornet Swiss pair did not fly.

Jubilee Airshow
This was expected to be the "big day" of the 40th anniversary of the SANICOLE Airshow and public attendance was huge. The speaker mentioned a record number of spectators, which the organization were able to manage with professionalism. Despite a grey sky persisting until the afternoon, the opening of the show could be done by lighter participants such as Christian Moullec's wild goose formation, the Bleriot from Sweden and the fantastic Glider FX, who did several rolls while still on tow - a stunt he had already done during the Sunset show with full pyrotechnics. With the weather still capricious but finally improving, Marty and Gizmo could unleash their full vertical displays for the joy of the crowd. The "Patrouille de France" concluded this anniversary airshow.

Altogether, a very impressive airshow with the Italian, French, Swiss, Saudia and Belgian national aerobatic teams, the Breitling Jets and multiple other top notch demos. So a very well celebrated 40th anniversary, and no regrets for the weather : SANICOLE was really the place to be that week-end !
Note of the Redaction: SBAP would like to thanks the organization and particularly the media team for the last minute facilities granted to our collaborators. Let's hope the next edition will be smoother regarding the communications between the media team and our administration.

 
Pictures Pierre Taquet
 
 Italian Air Force "Frecce Tricolori" and their MB-339 PAN
 
 Belgian Air Force A109BA solo display
 
 French Air Force Rafale solo diplay, JC "Marty" Martinez in action...probably the most impressive display of the weekend
 
 The "Blades" aerobatic team from United Kingdom
 The "Breiling Jet Team" from France
 
 
 "Gizmo" F-16 solo display in company of the aerobatic team leaders
 
 
 Belgian Air Force Lockheed C-130H pass
 The "Twister" aerobatic team from United Kingdom
 
 
 "Glider FX" display also from United Kingdom
 
 
 The great final firework
 Belgian Typhoon mock up Typhoon simulator
 No more candidate but well present Billie Flynn from Lockheed-Martin
 The French side of the market: the Rafale
 Ambiance at the VIP side
 Spitfire Mk IX full size mock-up with the 611 Sqn markings
 
(Serge van Oosterzee©)
 

We chose for this Saturday event held at Kleine Brogel airbase to present the personal vision of each of the colaborators present, it is obvious that everyone has his preferences, but it emerges that it was the team "Saudi Hawks" that was the most observed and photographed.

 
Kleine Brogel seen by Philippe Huberlant
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kleine Brogel seen by Anthony Graulus
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kleine Brogel seen by Serge van Oosterzee
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Kleine Brogel seen by Pierre Taquet
 
  "Marty" and his crew
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Jacques Bothelin the sympathic leader
 
 
 
Pictures Pierre Taquet
 
 US Army "Golden Knights" Parachute Display Team
 Siai Marchetti SF.260 Extra EA-330SC
 Belgian Air Force "Tiger Team" from the 31 Squadron
 Belgian Air Force "Red Devils"
 
 Swedish Air Force Saab JAS-39C solo display
 
 The "Breitling Jet Team"
 
 
 USAF New Hampshire National Guard  Boeing KC-135R 
 Greece Air Force F-16C "Zeus" solo display
 
 Spanish Air Force "Patrula Aspa"
 


Saudi Air Force
"Saudi Hawks" aerobatic team
88 Squadron King Faisal Airbase
Baé Hawk Mk 65A
 
 
 French Air Force Dassault Rafale C solo display
 
 
 
 Czech Air Force Mil-Mi 35 solo display
 
 Swiss Air Force "Patrouille Suisse"
 


Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18C Hornet solo display
 
 
 Polish Air Force Mig-29A Fulcrum solo display
 
 Pitts S-2S Richard Goodwin
 
 Belgian Air Force Lockheed F-16AM solo display
 French Air Force "Patrouille de France"
 


 Glider FX display MDM-1 Fox
 Glider FX display Swift S-1
 Bleriot XI display from Sweden
 Belgian Air Force Airbus Helicopter NH-90 NFH display
 The "Victors"
 North American T-28 Trojan and TF-51D Mustang duo
 Finnish Air Force Boeing F-18C Hornet solo display
 
 Belgian Air Force A109BA solo display
 
 Italian Air Force "Frecce Tricolori" aerobatic team
 
 The "Blades"
Turkish Air Force "Solo Turk" F-16C solo display 
 

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