Text: Paul Rorive - Pictures: Team work...as mentioned     © sbap 2018
    
 

On the early morning of last Thursday 01 February, an unusual animation was present on the parking of the LRA ( Limburg Regional Airport ), the former BAF airbase of SINT TRUIDEN (EBST) ; tens of spectators, enthusiasts, photographs and even press and television teams were braving the cold temperature and quite heavy wind as from 08 o'clock, fortunately without rain.

Around 09:45L, all eyes turned towards the entrance of the site. There it was ! A convoy lead by the grey car of "Celle" DEPETTER, Cdr retired, former Mirage instructor logging more than 3000 flying hours on the Delta and initiator of the project, was preceding 2 big trucks.
The BD 09 was finally back in Belgium, about 19 years after leaving the country for France.

Let's shortly remember the career of this marvellous Mirage 5B within the Belgian Air Force.
Under the construction number 209, the aircraft made its roll-in in SABCA on 07 October 1970, flew for the first time on 01 February 1971 and was delivered to BAF on 25 March 1971. The Mirage 5BD was assigned to the 8 Sqn in FLORENNES AFB (EBFS) where it was used for the conversion of the pilots on the new delta aircraft. In December 1971, it followed its squadron to BIERSET AFB (EBLG) where it was shared between the 1 and 8 Sqn. It went back for a while to EBFS in 2 Sqn in 1986 till 1987 and afterwards came back to EBLG till the end with the 42 Sqn. So, it wore the badge of all the 4 Mirage BAF squadrons.
It made its last flight on 13 January 1994 with Capt Avi Thierry DUPONT at the controls and Adjt BOO Freddy WILLEM in the backseat, taking off from Bierset at 11:07L and landing in WEELDE at 12:17L.

Its flying career was over, a page was turned ... but not its future !

After being kept in cocoon in WEELDE, it was bought by the SAGEM (later transferred to SOFEMA) together with all remaining Mirage. After its dismantling, it took the road to LA TESTE DE BUCH near BORDEAUX where it was supposed to be sold somewhere in the world as a whole or in pieces.
In February 2013, still being in one piece, it was unsuccessfully put in auction in the Salon Rétromobile, Porte de Versailles in PARIS.

In March 2015, under the pulse and initiative of Celle, a delegation of MPA (Mirage 5 Pilot Association) brought a visit to SOFEMA : they discovered there a treasure for Mirage 5B lovers, mainly a few aircraft in full and rather good condition and amongst them, the BD 09 !
Thanks to the good and fruitful contacts between Celle and some directors of SOFEMA, Celle received the news that the BD 09 was still on sale. Being more than fanatic for all what Mirage concerns (he is the happy owner not only of full dashboards but also the nose of the BA 27 from pitot tube to the aft of the whole cockpit, everything complete, dashboard, lights and instruments, ejection seat), he started to search for somebody willing and able to buy , to keep and further on display this piece of Belgian aeronautical and military history. He finally found him in the person of Jacques WALDEYER, Col retired, former Mirage pilot in 1 Sqn, CO of 8 Sqn and now owner of LRA. Following his own words : " When I saw that this aircraft was on sale, I did not hesitate a second. The approaches for the acquisition went fast. An aircraft like this is quite expensive but I hope to be able to make my purchase profitable by organizing some events around. The heart is priceless ".
In a close future, the plan is to display the BD 09 in the new building of Drone Port project in BRUSTEM.

To come back to this fabulous day, as soon as the transportation arrived, a group of former Belgian Air Force crew chiefs took in charge the unloading of the fuselage which was put on a cradle very fast. Can we say that during this manoeuver it flew once more in EBST ... !
The work of the mechanics ended up after daylight and the result was exceeding all expectations : vertical stabilizer and wings in place, gear down, BD 09 was pushed inside the hangar where it has deserved a good rest after this long trip.

The same for all the persons who took care of it: crew chiefs and other members enjoyed a well deserved drink in the cafeteria of the LRA and war stories started already to fly around in the good spirit of the old days.

Special thanks to "Celle" DEPETTER and "Jack" WALDEYER who gave us the opportunity to live this emotional and memorable day.

 
Operational life of the "BeDe" bird
 
 The BD09 was delivered on March 11th, 1971
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
During a wet airshow and without squadron markings
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 Take off in the 1980's
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
On taxi also during the 1980's
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 A static diplay in the UK
(Coll Johny De Visch)
With the 1st Squadron Thistle
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
 Short final
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
On taxi during an exercice in the UK
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 Static display UK 1985. Note the different zapping
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Leaving probably the same display in 1985
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 Little canopy problems in the late 1970's or begin 1980's
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Unwanted cabriolet version
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 In  the maintenance hangar Bierset airbase 1990  (Serge Van Heertum©)
 The front cockpit
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A view of the rear ejection seat with mention BD09AR
(Serge Van Heertum©)
In flight with the 8 Squadron insigna
(Via BD09 Restauration association)
Simply a beautiful aircraft playing with the clouds
(Via BD09 Restauration association)
 On the display line during Bierset airshow on June 24th, 1990
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Leaving Weelde for France after 5 years storage
(Coll Johny De Visch)
 February 2013, offered for sale at the Parc des Expositions (Porte de Versailles)
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
The start point of his Belgian come back...
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
 
The "Zero Nine" back in Belgium
 
 
 Ready for the transport somewhere in Cazaux
(MPA via Eddy Kellens)
In a real good state
(MPA via Eddy Kellens)
 The caracteristic "BD" nose
(MPA via Eddy Kellens)
Where the engine will be back
(MPA via Eddy Kellens)
 On the way back...
(Via Johny De Visch)
Under a good escort, eh "Celle"
(Paul Rorive ©)
 The "Baby" is back... (Paul Rorive ©)
 This is always an impressive view
(Paul Rorive ©)
The ATAR 9C engine
(Paul Rorive ©)
 "Jack", Mrs Veerle Heeren - Sint Truiden Mayor and "Celle"
(Paul Rorive ©)
A little present for the city Mayor
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
 Some interview for local broadcast
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
Yes "Celle"... "BeDe" is back ;-)
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
 Mirage is forever for all those former pilots...Nostalgia...  (Via Patrick Bouclan)
It's time to unload the "beast"
(Paul Rorive ©)
Low level flight...
(Paul Rorive ©)
 Welcome back BD09
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
Soon on his cradle
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
 Preparing the left wing
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
Presentation of the wing before mounting
(Eddy "Bink" Kellens ©)
 Reassembly of the tail fin
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
The right wing now
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
 In position for mounting
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
The landing gear could be lowered
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
 This emotional day is over, but the work will continue...(Via Johny De Visch)
 One week later in the hangar
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
The tail fin is fully reassembled
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
 BD09 got is nose back
(Via Patrick Bouclan)
Simply a wonderful prject... Congrat's guy's
(J C Wayet ©)
 
Last but not least, for those who are still interested, the book
"The unique history of the Mirage 5B in the Belgian Air Force"published by the MPA is still available;
 more info on how to order it can be obtained by sending a email to the MPA (just click on the book cover)
YOU NEED IT IN YOUR BOOKSHELVE...
  

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