Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Pierre Taquet, Alain Debras & Laurent Bladt - Translation: David Niemegeerts
Copyright sbap 2017©
 

October 26th, 2017, an autumn day accompanied by an overcast, gray sky above the base of Beauvechain. This long-planned day was devoted to the last demonstrations of the 2017 season of the Belgian Air Force ambassadors. It was before a panel of guests and specialized press that the Agusta A109BA made its last arabesques, and fired some flares in the sky over the base, and that the "Red Devils" offered several passages in formation with the Fouga from Deurne, as well as two demonstrations. A very noticeable absence was the F-16AM solo display. Due to technical issues, "Gizmo" could not leave the base of Kleine Brogel to make a last salute to the guests of Beauvechain, but strangely, we find pictures of his last demonstration at Kleine Brogel, the same day ... Make of that what you will ...

Let's return to the festive afternoon dedicated to the "Red Devils" who, for the occasion, wanted to highlight the 60 years of the team, with of course some gaps between the Hawker Hunter (1957-1963), the Fouga (1965 - 1977) and the Siai Marchetti SF.260 (2011 - today).
Concerning this anniversary, we must admit that there is some confusion about dates and numbers of years.
It is true that in 1977, the team celebrated the 25th anniversary as indicated by the logo on the Fouga worn during this season. These 25 years make us go back to the year 1952 which is in fact the starting point of the demonstration teams in Belgium and the creation of the "Acrobobs" by the initiative of Robert "Bobby" Bladt.
In 2017, the current team highlights the 60th anniversary, it makes us go back to 1957 and not 1952. In 1957, again Robert "Bobby" Bladt, raised a team of four Hawker Hunter based at the 7th Wing in Chièvres. This demonstration team will become the official one, but in 1957 it did not have a name yet. It was not until 1959, following a friendly agreement between "Bobby" Bladt and the National Football Team that the team was dubbed "Diables Rouges - Rode Duivels", officially this time.
Here is a summary of the confusion mentioned earlier and, therefore, what is the date to remember? The starting point in 1952, the beginning on Hawker Hunter in 1957 or the official name appeared in 1959? The debate remains open ...

Let's return to October 26th and to our current "Red Devils", who were celebrating the last presentation of the 2017 season and the 60 years of the team. For this very festive occasion, our "Reds" had invited a considerable number of former "Red Devils" members and it was thus that we could immortalize the former pilots on Fouga in front of the MT-5, having come especially from Deurne for the occasion . It was also the opportunity to see the alumni of the SF.260 team, "Al" returned from a distant island, in the company of his family, and "Mel", who temporarily abandoned the quad-reactor with a "big saucer" on its back, to the profit of the white birds of the 15th Wing.
For 2018, "Paolo", the current leader will leave the "Reds" after five years of leading the team, and having accumulated no less than 140 official shows, without taking into account the various fly passes at various ceremonies. Good show "Paolo", for this superb "score board" and thank you for your kindness and your support during all our reports.
Finally, let's talk a little about the men in the shade, technicians and other PRs. They were also honored during this evening and it is only normal, without them nothing could be done ...
But the ground team will also undergo a change for the 2018 season. Didier, the current chief mechanic also will leave the team after a few years of good and loyal services. Thanks to you too Didier, for all the good times that SBAP could spend with you. So this is the end of the 2017 season for our "Red Devils", and we look forward to seeing them again in 2018.
In conclusion, for the Devils of the past, present and future ... Thank you! Thank you for dazzling us with your demonstrations, you were, you are and you will always be the ambassadors of our wings and our national colors. "Devil Forever ..."

 
The exhibition in the C3 hangar (Serge Van Heertum©)
 The fantastic RC Hunter of Renaud Leclercq  (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 Pictural exhibition with some SBAP archives :-)  (Serge Van Heertum©) The nose of the Devil...  (Serge Van Heertum©)
 







No less than 18 former "Red Devils" pilots from the Fouga Magister era.
Note also the presence of a mecanic of the team (full left) and Mrs Jeanine Van Essche (Red coat) the widow of former "Red Devils" Paul Van Essche
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 
 The Fouga Magister and the Siai Marchetti SF.260. The "Reds" took the skies...  (Pierre Taquet©)
 Preparing for the first display of the afternoon
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Walkaround for "Jean"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 The parachute for "Tcholle"...Thanks for help Danny
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Strapping for "Paolo" with the help of Steven
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Start up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Paolo" and "Meel" toegether for this first display
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Belgian ambassadors colours...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Papy" making a formal salute
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Taxi to the holding point
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Take off
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Some Fouga formation passes
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Alain Debras©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 And...display now...
(Alain Debras©)
(Alain Debras©)
 (Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
 (Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
Back to the parking for the Fouga Magister  (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) General Major Avi F. Vansina had a taste of the Whistling Turtle
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 The caracteristic "smog" of the Fouga
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Alain Debras©) London early in the morning?
(Alain Debras©)
 Seems that the experience was pleasant
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Part of the Fouga front panel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 The team is also back to the parking
(Alain Debras©)
Marshalling
(Alain Debras©)
 (Alain Debras©) Technicians take care of the airplanes and prepare them for the second display
(Alain Debras©)
 
 The last demonstration of 2017 for the Agusta A109 solo display
(Alain Debras©)
(Alain Debras©)
 (Pierre Taquet©) With many flares effect
(Pierre Taquet©)
 #1 (Alain Debras©) #2 & #3 (Pierre Taquet©)
 
 Second display...with the five pilots...  (Serge Van Heertum©)
 The image of the day: "Paolo" and "Didier". Both will leave the team. 
Thanks for all you did for SBAP guy's. 
It was always a pleasure to be in your company.

(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Paolo" is taking a mascot with him for his last show
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 The look of the devil or just a little bit concentration?
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The drill...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Concentration for "Papy"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Meel" on taxi
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Devil forever...he "Papy"?
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Jean" also on taxi
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
The final with five aircraft... (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©) Fuel tank...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Hot debiefing
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The men in the shadows...the mecanics
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Starting the Devils evening
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Some present for the team offered by "Bobby" Bladt Family
(Pierre Taquet©)
Posing with Laurent Bladt, Vanina Ickx and Nigel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Jean-Pierre Bladt the son of "Bobby"#1 & "Paolo" and Natacha #2 (Pierre Taquet©) "Fifi" the unavoidable PR #3 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 Selfies with Vanina and Nigel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Vanina Ickx the 2017 Godmother of the team
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 The Bergneustadt organizers with a present for the team
(Pierre Taquet©)
Not to forget...the delicious Devil fuel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 Some speeches to conclude this fantastic day
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A team yes... but friendship above all
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 "Tcholle" ambiance
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Papy" and "Jean"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 "Paolo" can return to his happy wife after 5 years of good and loyal service
(Laurent Bladt©)
Some present for "Paolo"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A superb souvenir of his "Red Devils" career
(Laurent Bladt©)
(Laurent Bladt©)
2017 season is over, and what a season!  Go for 2018 guy's with all our support...    (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 (Serge Van Heertum©)

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