Text & Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, others as mentioned - Translations: Marc Arys  ©sbap 2021
      
On July 8th, 2021, the last two Alouette III of the Air Component performed their last flights. The editorial staff is sure that you have seen countless pictures and often the same ones of this historic and emotionally charged day for the crews through social media and other news, each one trying to go faster than the other, but bringing nothing more to the readers than the picture of the moment. Our goal is not comparable and after reflection, it seemed more appropriate to wait and return to the subject with a more historical approach in order to better highlight the men and machines that lived together for half a century. That said, let's get down to business.
     
The prototype 01 F-ZWVQ
(DR / Jean Delmas © via Web)
The beginnings:

The famous Alouette II was already showing interesting performances in 1956 with, among other things, rescue missions in the mountains at an altitude of more than 4,000 metres, but beyond 3,000 metres, the machine started to have difficulties.

Sud-Aviation's Helicopter Division therefore began to study a more powerful version with improved aerodynamics, which increased its overall capacity. The result was an aircraft capable of carrying seven people (one pilot and six passengers), of semi-monocoque construction and equipped with a Messier tricycle landing gear with steerable nosewheel, and whose fuselage was entirely streamlined. The new aircraft was equipped with a powerful turbine, the Turbomeca Artouste III B, developing 870 hp. The thermal power reserve of this turbine made it possible to keep the mechanical power up to 5000m. At sea level, the turbine worked perfectly up to an outside temperature of over 50°C, which ensured good performance at altitude and in hot weather, with very high reliability.

The possibility to perform winch evacuations up to 175 kg and the good adaptation of the cabin to medical missions, allowing the accommodation of two stretchers in the cabin, made the Alouette III a very popular aircraft for all rescue missions. Its power reserve and the ability to carry 740 kg of cargo in the cabin and 750 kg as an external load, facilitated its adoption in mountainous countries, but the Alouette III's qualities have also justified orders from countries with neither high altitude nor hot weather, such as the Netherlands, Belgium or Ireland.

Built at La Courneuve, the SE.3160-001 (F-ZWVQ) prototype made its first flight at Le Bourget on 28 February 1959, piloted by Jean Boulet and Robert Malus. It was followed three months later by the SE.3160-002 (F-ZWVR), which made a highly acclaimed flight presentation at the Paris Air Show in June 1959 in the hands of Roland Coffignot, while the 001 began an evaluation campaign in the mountains, including engine tests at the top of the Dôme du Goûter (4,150 m altitude) at -20°C. This campaign ended with a landing on the summit of Mont Blanc with seven people on board!
These two prototypes were followed by two pre-production aircraft, the first of which took to the air in July 1960. Handed over on 17 March 1961 to the ALAT Experimental Group at Satory, it was tested in Algeria by the GH2 at Sétif-Aïn-Arnat. After an accident on November 27th 1962, the aircraft was rebuilt as SA.316 (N° 1412) and used for training within the ALAT.
In July 1964, Sud Aviation flew a version specifically designed for the military and called
"Alouette Canon". This one was equipped with a 20 mm front facing gun.
In addition, this aircraft was designed to carry and fire AS.11 and AS-12 missiles. Unfortunately, this combat helicopter remained at the study stage, as it was not as successful as expected. The Alouette III modified as "Alouette Canon" was N° 1164 and was later returned to the basic standards and used for various tests and trials, notably in the field of forest fire fighting.
For the record, the estimated cost of an hour of flight of an Alouette III was about 5000€ in 2010 to reach nearly 13000€ in 2017.

Versions:

SA-3160 Alouette III: first production Alouette III took to the air in July 1961
SE.3164 Cannon Alouette: to meet Rhodesia's needs
SA-316A Alouette III: designation of SE.3160 from 1968 on
SA-316B Alouette III: unchanged engine but improved rotor. First flight 27-06-1968
IAR 316B: SA-316B built under licence by ICA Brasov in Romania.
IAR-317 Airfox: attack helicopter project derived from the IAR 316B. Was abandoned
F+W Alouette IIIS: SA-316B produced under licence in Switzerland at 60 units
SA-316C Alouette III: last version with 870 hp Artouste IIIB engine
SA-319B Alouette III: SE.3160-001 powered by a Turbomeca Astazou XIV 870 hp turbine
SA-319C Alouette III: latest version, detail changes only

A total of 1453 aircraft left La Courneuve and Marignane factories until May 1st 1985, delivered to 190 users in 92 countries. To this figure must be added the aircraft produced under licence in Switzerland by the Fabrique Fédérale d'Avions based at Emmen (60), the Chetak produced by HAL in India (300) and the IAR 316B built by IC-Brasov in Romania (230). This makes a grand total of 2043 machines.

     
F-ZWVQ during test flights
(©Sud Aviation via Net)
Prototype 02 F-ZWVR on ground and during mountain trials
(© Sud Aviation via Net)
SE.3164 Cannon Alouette N°01 MG151 20 mm gun and 4 x SS-11 wire guided missile
(©Archives Sud Aviation via Net)
Assembly line Alouette II & III
(©Archives Sud Aviation via Net)
IAR-317 Airfox: attack helicopter project derived from the IAR 316B
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
    
  
In flight above Belgium landscape
(Serge Van Heertum©)
   
Alouette III in Belgium:

This goes back to half a century ago and more precisely when on April 1st 1971 the Belgian Navy Flight was attached to the brand new 40th Squadron based at Koksijde.
The fleet of this squadron was composed only of Sikorsky HSS-1 / S-58 (some of them wearing the Navy roundel) until the reception and integration of three new Aerospatiale SE-316B Alouette III helicopters.
The first two were received on March 18th 1971, the third one arrived on April 29th 1971.
Smaller and lighter than the massive Sikorsky helicopters, the dimensions were the main reason for this choice, allowing the new machines to be embarked on the command and logistic support ships "Godetia" (A960) and "Zinnia" (A961) in service with the Belgian Navy.

   
BNS Godetia (A960) 1965-2021
(Courtesy Belgian Navy©)
BNS Zinnia (A961) 1967-1993 (Destroy in 2007)
(Courtesy Belgian Navy©)
   
The naval training and IFR qualification took place in France at the Ecole de Spécialisation Hélicoptères Embarqués (ESHE) under the marks of Escadrille 22S based at BAN Lanvéoc-Poulmic. The course offered 80 hours of training before returning to Koksijde airbase and moving on to the operational level.
At the beginning, Alouette III crews' missions were of the unarmed servitude category such as logistic support of the fleet at sea, medical evacuations and other rescues, surveillance of fishing areas, anti-pollution and VIP transport.
To accomplish their missions, the Alouette IIIs regularly embarked on the two above-mentioned ships. The involvement of the Belgian Naval Force in NATO forces is not limited to the North Sea, and the "cockade with a hook" (Anchor of the Navy) will criss-cross the skies and seas of the world, making the missions exotic for the crews but also emotionally intense.
The helicopters and crews have participated in numerous missions around the world, starting in 1979 with the "Green Apple" operation as part of a Belgian-Zairean exercise; then heading for the Persian Gulf in 1987-1988 as part of the protection of merchant traffic threatened by the Iran-Iraq war; a second trip to this sensitive area during the Gulf War in 1990-1991 to reinforce the naval blockade of Saddam Hussein's Iraq and to take part in the hunt for sea mines in the Gulf.
In 1993, the Flight Heli was placed at the disposal of the UN in Somalia for humanitarian and medical missions.
In 1996, an Alouette III landed for the first time on a Dutch Navy frigate and it will not be the last time.
This was the start of a close collaboration between the Belgian and Dutch Navy dedicated to active counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean area. The Alouette IIIs of the Navy participated in 7 of these missions between 2002 and 2016; to this must be added the anti-piracy operations (Operation Atalanta) which, given the danger, led the Navy to equip the Alouettes with a MAG (Mitrailleuse d'Appui Général) machine gun at the port side.
The Alouette IIIs were also integrated in numerous mine hunting missions or in the search for historical armaments at sea (HOD Ops - Historical Ordnance Disposal Operations).
And the variety of missions performed by Alouettes and their crews will further increase with the deployments alongside the French aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle for which the Belgian Alouette IIIs have played the role of the emergency helicopter ready to intervene during take-off and landing; a role commonly called "Pedro".
     
Belgian Navy Heli Flight pilot and crew official patches
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
     
So here you have the rich and lived history of the three Belgian Alouettes that have kept their typical navy blue livery since 1971, even if they changed command in the course of time to become part of the Air Component in 2004. As far as markings are concerned, in 50 years, there have been a few small variations. M-1 to M-3 from the time of their commissioning, the code OT-ZPA to OT-ZPC was indicated on the bottom of the cabin, as well as the words "BELGISCHE ZEEMACHT" on the right and "FORCE NAVALE BELGE" on the left off the beam behind the cabin. The bilingual formula will disappear in June 1990 to be replaced by the inscription "Marine" on both sides which will last until 2010 to finally disappear without any other mention. The OT-ZPA to OT-ZPC code disappeared between 2003 and 2004 when the Navy Flight and its three Alouette IIIs were fully integrated into the Belgian Defence Air Component. On the other hand, the Alouette IIIs wore the "cockade with hook" (naval anchor, either white or gold, superimposed on the national colours) as early as 1971 and were never deprived of the sign of belonging to the Navy, even if the management of the aircraft was under the aegis of the Air Force since 2004.
  
Belgian Navy Heli Flight humoristic and anniversary patches
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
Presentation of the newcomer to the Navy and Air Force authorities
(Amilpress©)
Welcome flight with the 2 HSS-1 wearing the Navy anchor
OT-ZKG (B7) & OT-ZKH (B8)
(Amilpress©)
M-3 on display during Koksijde opendoor 1974
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A splendid trio during Florennes airshow on June 23rd, 1979
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-2 on static display at Koksijde in the 1983
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Winching demonstration Goetsenhoven 1984
(Serge Van Heertum©)
In 1985 the Alouette III M-1 is tagged with an humoristic sailor logo
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The detail of the logo
(Serge Van Heertum©)
White "Mike 3" at Koksijde airshow 1993
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 pass above the operational area during Koksijde airshow 1994
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Operational area Koksijde 1994: M-2 / OT-ZPB...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
... M-3 / OT-ZPC
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Amazing formation: Agusta A109BA, Seaking Mk 48, Alouette III and SA-330 Puma
Picture was take between 1992 (arrival first Agusta) and 1995 (Seaking modernisation with bigger radar)
If someone has more information about this formation, like date or airbase, a mail is welcome
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / DR)
Back from mission Koksijde 1995...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...note the cargosling structure under the belly
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Mike 2" heavy maintenance in 1999
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Same for the "Mike 1"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Uper view of the puzzle
(Serge Van Heertum©)
And the "Mike 3" stand by in the 40 Squadron hangar 1999
(Serge Van Heertum©)
30 years of service in 2001, the left side...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...the right side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and the detail of the 30 years logo
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Alouette and brother Seaking in 2001
(Serge Van Heertum©)

M-3 in 2002
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Note the difference between 2002 and 2003 OT-ZPB is replaced by M-2
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Koksijde airshow July 2nd, 2004
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Cargosling demonstration
(Serge Van Heertum©)
June 3rd, 2005 at Bierset
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Arrival for the helidays
(Serge Van Heertum©)
As from 2006 the logo of Belgian Defense is added
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Koksijde August 27th, 2008...another way to move
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 fully ready after maintenance in January 2009. Note the white square waiting the "UN" code in preparation of "Operation Atalanta I"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 in maintenance also in 2009
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rear view of the same
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 pushed out for engine run trial
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-2 with the folded rotor blades, Koksijde July 3rd 2009
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 also in the static display
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-2 moved into the hangar and presented with emergency floats inflated
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 as TV broadcast vehicle, note the emergency floats are removed
(Serge Van Heertum©)
National day 2009 somewhere above Belgium
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The M-1 is following us
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 during the "Fly to your dream" concept at Kleine Brogel in 2010
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tasting this amazing reliable machine
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-2 presentation during the Koksijde SAR meet 2010 
Note that the Defense logo is gone
(Serge Van Heertum©)
It blows behind
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The M-1 present during the "Fly to your dream" 2011 edition at Beauvechain airbase
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 present at Koksijde Aid to the Nation opendoor August 29th, 2012
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Near its brother of arms RS-05
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 at Beauvechain airbase for the 100 years Military Aviation commemorations
September 06th, 2013
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Official press presentation of the new NH-90
Koksijde airbase May 16th, 2014
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 above Brussels Courthouse on July 21st, 2014
(Marc Arys©)
Back to base in formation after the National Day fly pass at Brussels
(Marc Arys©)
The M-2 in chiaroscuro
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-3 arrival at Kleine Blogel airbase on September 12th, 2014
(Serge Van Heertum©)
At sunset of Defense Days
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 visiting the Semmerzake open day 2015
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Lift off at our level, Semmerzake on June 26th, 2015
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Going to join up...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and back in a multiple ship formation
(Serge Van Heertum©)

"Mike 3" in maintenance at Koksijde facilities on March 2nd, 2016
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Koksijde SAR meet on October 11th, 2016
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Big eyes of the rear side !
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Beauvechain airbase Helidays on April 11th, 2017
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Arrival to the Kleine Brogel Belgian Air Force Days on September 7th, 2018
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Face to face with the kind Alouette
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Eye to eye with the crew
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The cabin offers a very wide view in flight
(Serge Van Heertum©)
At your own risk, it's noted!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Night flight for "Mike 3"
(Philippe Decock©)
Koksijde airbase January 9th, 2019
(Philippe Decock©)
A last rainy mission for the M-2 on July 4th, 2021
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Waiting clearance
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Lift off in heavy rain, they are sailors, they are used to the water :-)
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
From vertical to longitudinal flight
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
    
   
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Missions and operations
Deployment Unit

BNS Zinnia
BNS Zinnia
BNS Zinnia
BNS Zinnia
HNLMS Van Nes
HNLMS De Ruyter
HNLMS Abrabham Van Der Hulst
HNLMS Van Speyk
HNLMS Van Galen
HNLMS Rotterdam
BNS Leopold I
BNS Leopold I
BNS Louise Marie
BNS Louise Marie
HNLMS Tromp
HNLMS Van Amstel
BNS Louise Marie
HNLMS Friesland
BNS Leopold I
BNS Leopold I
BNS Godetia
BNS Leopold I
BNS Leopold I
HNLMS De Zeven Provincien
BNS Louise Marie
BNS Louise Marie
BNS Louise Marie
BNS Godetia
BNS Godetia
BNS Leopold I
BNS Leopold I
BNS Leopold I
BNS Godetia

Mission Name

Operation Green Apple
Operation Octopus
Operation Southern Brize
Operation Restore Hope
Hearthquake
Operation Caribbean Triangle (1)
Operation West Eagle 02
Operation West Eagle 02
Operation West Eagle 04
Operation Falla Watra
UNIFIL I (2)
UNIFIL II
Operation Atalanta I
Operation Atalanta II
Operation West Eagle 12
Operation West Eagle 12
Operation Atalanta III
Operation West Eagle 13
Operation Atalanta IV
MCB15 (3)
Operation Supportive Trident
Operation Cooperative Venture
Operation Arromanches 2
Operation West Eagle 16
Operation Sophia
Operation Sophia
Operation Sea Guardian
HOD OPS NOR (4)
HOD OPS LVA/LIT
SNMG1 (5)
Operation Foch 2020 - GAN 20 (6)
Operation Clemenceau 2021 - GAN 21
SNMCMG1 (7)

Mission type

Blue Helmet ONU support and training
Minesweeping and maritime protection
Minesweeping and maritime protection
Humanitary
Humanitary
Multinational Naval Training
Anti Drugs
Anti Drugs
Anti Drugs
Humanitary
Embargo control
Embargo control
Anti-Piracy
Anti-Piracy
Anti Drugs
Anti Drugs
Anti-Piracy
Anti Drugs
Anti-Piracy,
Anti Drugs, Anti Drugs, Fishing Control
Migrant Control
Migrant Control
Logistic Support
Anti Drugs
Migrant Control
Migrant Control
Control Illegal Traffic and Anti Terrorism
Minesweeping
Minesweeping
General Training
"Pedro" for Charles De Gaulle carrier
"Pedro" for Charles De Gaulle carrier
Minesweeping

Localization

Zaire
Persian Gulf (Iran-Irak War)
Oman Gulf (2nd Gulf War)
Somali (Onusom)
Sumatra
Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
Suriname
Lebanon
Lebanon
Gulf of Aden & Indian Ocean
Gulf of Aden & Indian Ocean
Caribbean Sea
Caribbean Sea
Gulf of Aden & Indian Ocean
Caribbean Sea
Gulf of Aden & Indian Ocean
Golf of Guinea
Italy
Mediterranean Sea
MedSea and Atlantic Ocean
Caribbean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
Lybian Coast
Mediterranean Sea
Dutch coast
Baltic Sea
Atlantic Ocean and North Sea
Arabian Sea and Gulf of Oman
Med Sea, Indian Ocean, Pers Gulf
North Sea to Baltic Sea

Start

20-02-1979
21-09-1987
23-09-1990
01-01-1993
07-06-2000
29-01-2001
10-02-2002
25-08-2002
07-01-2004
18-05-2006
20-08-2008
16-02-2009
17-08-2009
04-10-2010
20-05-2012
07-09-2012
07-11-2012
28-01-2013
17-08-2014
16-02-2015
11-05-2015
05-10-2015
15-11-2015
10-01-2016
10-11-2016
12-06-2017
13-02-2018
13-08-2018
08-10-2018
01-08-2019
20-02-2020
10-02-2021
13-05-2021

End

13-04-1979
19-11-1988
21-07-1991
31-12-1993
09-06-2000
11-04-2001
05-07-2002
22-12-2002
10-05-2004
25-05-2006
18-12-2008
16-06-2009
23-12-2009
07-02-2011
09-09-2012
05-12-2012
27-02-2013
31-05-2013
14-12-2014
09-04-2015
10-07-2015
15-11-2015
23-01-2016
20-06-2016
23/12/2016
28-07-2017
04-03-2018
24-08-2018
21-10-2018
04-11-2019
20-03-2020
13-05-2021
25-06-2021

 

(1) Triangle = Norfolk - Curaçao - Bermuda
(2) UNIFIL = United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon
(3) MCB = Maritime Capacity Building
(4) HOD OPS = Historical Ordnance Disposal Operations
(5) SNMG = Standing Nato Maritime Group 1
(6) GAN = Groupe Aero Naval

(7) SMMCMG = Standing Naval Mine Counter Measures Group

 
Last operations and farewell logo
(Coll Serge Van Heertum)
 
M-2 approaching the Godetia in the Mediterranean sea 1973
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / jean-luc V©)
Securing of the M-1 on the deck 1973
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Navy Alouette III with the BNS Zinnia (A961) in the 1980's
(Amilpress© via Alouette Flight FB)
The BNS Zinnia in 1991 with an Alouette III on the flight deck
(Courtesy Belgian Navy / IPR Wieligen © via web)
The M-3 on BNS Zinnia (A961) flight deck during operation Restore Hope 1993
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
The M-3 in Somalia, note the emergency floats are removed
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
M-3 in operations in Somali countries (Onusom)
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Not being seasick is an advantage!
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Ready for take off from the BNS Godetia" flight deck
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Approaching the "Godetia" flight deck
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB©)
On HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) deck during the exercice "Destined Glory 2004"
with French ALAT Puma
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Above the HNLMS Rotterdam (L800) flight deck
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB©)
At sunset not far away of the Lebanon coast during UNIFIL I operations
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Mission UNIFIL I in 2008 at Beyruth Airport with Lebanon UH-1H
(Via net / DR)
Anti-drugs mission in company of the Coast Guards
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB©)
Guided by the landing officer
(Courtesy Coa Ipr via Press map)
Landed and harpoon in place
(Courtesy Coa Ipr via Press map)
On the deck at sunset, few seconds before lift off
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB©)
In the HNLMS De Ruyter (F804) hangar
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
On the deck of the HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F802)
(Courtesy Koninklijke Marine via Alouette Flight  FB©)
Mike 1 on parade
(Courtesy Koninklijke Marine via Alouette Flight  FB©)
Aerial and magical view of the HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F802)
(Courtesy Koninklijke Marine via Alouette Flight  FB©)
HNLMS De Zeven Provinciën (F802) with one of the Belgian Alouette III on the flight deck arriving at Curaçao harbour
(Courtesy Mediacenter Defensie.nl ©)
Armed during the anti-drugs mission
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Teamwork and large seizure from drug traffickers
(Courtesy NL Defensie©)
Mission above the North Sea
(Courtesy Coa Ipr via Press map)
What the pilot sees in the approach phase before aligning with the deck
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
In position for landing
(Courtesy NATO / FRAN C Valverde©)
In the flight deck axis
(Courtesy NATO / FRAN C Valverde©)
Salt rinse to prevent corrosion
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
The helicopter is pushed into the hangar on the BNS Godetia
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
The reason why the Alouette III was choosen
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Light party at night on the BNS Leopold I (F930)
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
On board the Johan Dewit in the Norwegian fjord in company of a Lynx
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Take off for combined mission
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
M-3 at take off from HNLMS Johan de Witt (L801) flight deck
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Another mission in Norway
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Flying in the vicinity of the Austrian mountains...
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
...or above the Scottich lock in 2017 (Looking for Nessie?)
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
In good company at New York...
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
...or simply above the Belgian coast
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Flying near the Leopold I frigate along the Lebanon coast
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
Preparing to be stored in the F930 hangar
(Courtesy Belgian-Navy.be / 1kc gerard©)
After a heavy downpour
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Safety ties removed and ready to take off under the deck officer orders
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
50 years of the old lady Alouette
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Secured on the Leopold I (F930) frigate
(Courtesy MAR / DR)
On the flight deck not far away of the Nuclear Aircraft Carrier Charles de Gaule
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
The flight engineer doing the refueling
(Courtesy French Navy via Alouette Flight FB©)
On the Charles de Gaule preparing for the "Pedro" mission
(Courtesy French Navy via Alouette Flight FB©)
Waiting to remove the chocks and chain
(Courtesy French Navy via Alouette Flight FB©)
Take off and view of the aviation bridge
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
What a view as "Pedro" near an aircraft carrier
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
Viewed from the Charles de Gaulle carrier
(Courtesy French Navy via Alouette Flight FB©)
Leopold I frigated and Alouette III on duty
(Courtesy French Navy via Alouette Flight FB©)
Approaching the Leopold I for landing procedure
(Courtesy Coa Ipr via press map©)
The ultimate 3 ship formation flight was held on June 29th, 2020
(Courtesy Coa Ipr / Michael Moors©)
Low level and containers ship 
(Courtesy Coa Ipr / Michael Moors©)
Salute on the HNLMS Schiedam (M860)
(Courtesy Coa Ipr / Michael Moors©)
Splendid 3 ship formation, this is now the past... Sad!
(Courtesy Coa Ipr / Michael Moors©)
Three ship formation back to base
(Courtesy Coa Ipr / Michael Moors©)
June 17th, 2021, M-3 is prepared to move to the Saffraanberg Technical School
(Courtesy Koksijde Airbase IPR / Adj Devid Ryckewaert©)
M-3 last mission by road
(Courtesy Koksijde Airbase IPR / Adj Devid Ryckewaert©)
An impressive view of the last duo Godetia and Alouette
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)

The last mission for the BNS Godetia (A960) started on January 21st, 2021 and the Alouette III helicopter joined the mission as from May 13th, 2021
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
The BNS Godetia back to Belgium for the last time on June 26th, 2021 and got a salute from the two remaining Alouette III
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)
  
    
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Here we are, the circle is closed and the last two navy blue Alouette IIIs have finished their career on July 08th, 2021. But before this farewell event held at Koksijde airbase, the 3 elegant little machines made a commemorative flight over the Flanders region (too bad for the rest of the country...) on June 29th, 2020, unfortunately without any media coverage for the specialised aviation press. This event was the starting point for the retirement of 'Mike-3' (OT-ZPC) which was transferred a few weeks ago to the Technical School in Saafranberg to continue to serve the Defence for didactic purposes.
And then, there was this last mission full of prestige but also of emotion, the last mission of the command and support ship "Godetia" (A960 officially withdrawn from the inventory on July 01, 2021) with on board the always valiant Alouette III "Mike-1". This last five-month mine countermeasure mission in the North and Baltic Seas was a multinational mission under NATO command with ships provided by Germany, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, Norway, the UK and Belgium. This final mission for the "Godetia" and her faithful Alouette III started at the end of January 2021 and finally the Belgian ship reached the port of Zeebrugge on 27 June 2021 marking the end of 55 years of navigation for this vessel.
On July 08, "Mike-1" and "Mike-2" were lined up on one of the car park of Koksijde base waiting for their final flights to take them respectively to Landen (Army Museum reserve) for M-1 and to Beauvechain airbase where Alouette M-2 will be displayed to the public. But before this moving departure, it was time for the last pictures and video before the press conference of Major Reza Vandenbroucke, commander of the coastal base. After a reminder of what the Alouette IIIs and their crews had accomplished during the 50 years of service within the Belgian Defence, without any major incident (*) and above all without having to deplore any casualties, it was time for the interviews of the last crews, who were proud to have flown such a reliable machine and above all to have accomplished so many different operational missions, but with a palpable twinge of sorrow and what could be more normal. They could have told us for hours about their Alouette IIIs and their missions, but timing is timing and it was time to get ready for the final flight. 

(*) It is worth mentioning a small mishap that could have ended badly. It happened during the deployment during the Iran-Iraq war, and more specifically on July 25, 1988. During a night mission, the crew of the M-1 Alouette slightly hit the surface of the water, but was able to control the helicopter and bring it back to the BNS Zinnia (A961) safely.

At 10:25 local time, it was time for the start-up, the last check and taxi to the runway to wait for the last clearance from the controllers. 10:34, lift off of the two Alouette IIIs which made two more farewell passes accompanied by an NH-90 NFH before finally break and head to their final destinations.
Let's also note that the three Alouette IIIs, which are now part of Belgian aeronautical history, have accumulated more than 31,500 flight hours in fifty years of service (31,768 hrs as of July 02, 2021 to be exact, not counting the last flight).

M1 (" Mike-1 "): Call Sign OT-ZPA, afterwards BLUE BIRD51
Delivery 18/3/1971
Flying hours : 10.585 on 02/07/2021
Last location: Landen (WHI reserve)

M2 (" Mike-2 "): Call Sign OT-ZPB, afterwards BLUE BIRD52
Delivery 18/3/1971
Flying hours : 10.471 on 02/07/2021
Last location: Beauvechain (1st Wing Historical Center)

M3 (" Mike-3 "): Call Sign OT-ZPC, afterwards BLUE BIRD53
Delivery 29/4/1971
Flying hours : 10.712 on 02/07/2021
Last location: Saafranberg (École Royale des Sous-Officiers)

It is obvious that the characteristic sound of the Artouste turbines will be sorely missed in the Belgian sky, and let's conclude with this adage that fits him like a glove: "The important thing is not to be great, but to be good enough!"

  
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
In the morning sun
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Sun reflects on the old lady
(Serge Van Heertum©)
"Mike One"
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
"Mike Two"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Arrived the same day 50 years ago, they will be leave together in a few minutes
(Serge Van Heertum©)
50 years with the Navy Anchor!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The press point in company of another iconic machine...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and with pictures of the future
(COA Ipr Expo)
Some of the remaining members of the Heli Flight
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The press presentation from Maj Reza Vandenbroucke Koksijde Basecommander
(Serge Van Heertum©)
First Lieutenant 1st Class L. Vanthieghem cumulate 5000 flight hours in 25 years
He is one on the last Navy member of the flight and will return to the Navy
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Commandat Roquet of the Air Fiorce was the second last Alouette driver
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The last family picture before the departure
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Another one more like a football team
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Bye Bye Alouette, kind Alouette!
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The flight engineer is probably more used to work with a screwdriver
as with a microphone
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Some more pictures and video before the departure
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Preparing for the last flight
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Doors closed
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Power supply removed
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Start up checks
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Spinning
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Clearance for taxi received
(Serge Van Heertum©)
M-1 taxi...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...M-2 also
(Serge Van Heertum©)
On the way to the holding point
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The life of the Alouette is now behind it
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The broadcast NH-90
(Serge Van Heertum©)
On the runway
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
M-1 lift off 
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
Followed by the M-2
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
The two helicopters with the iconic former monastic barn "Ten Bogaerde"
(Patrick Brouckaert©)
A last salute to the base before heading for the final destination
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Arrival of the M-1 at Landen facilities
(Courtesy Gijs Mouchaers©)
Shut down and smoking like a good old Fouga Magister
(Courtesy Gijs Mouchaers©)
M-2 few minutes after arrival at Beauvechain airbase
(Courtesy Guy Van Eeckhoudt©)
Before being exhibited at the museum, the Alouette will be "demilitarized"
(Courtesy Guy Van Eeckhoudt©)
     
     
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
   
Technical data:
 
Lenght (rotor unfolded): 12,64 m
Heigth: 2,97 m
Width: 2,59 m
Main rotor diameter: 11,02 m
Engine : 1 x Turbomeca Artouste IIIB de 870 cv
Maximum speed: 210 km/h
Cruising speed: 185 km/h
Maximum ceiling: 4250 m
Empty weight: 1550 kg
Maximum Take Off wheight: 2200 kg
Thermal Power: 870 hp
Maximum continuopus power: 550 hp
Max range: 500 km
Sling Load: 750 kg
Crew: 2 (pilot and flight engineer / winch operator)
Total seats: 1+6
 
Turbomeca Artouste IIIB right side general view
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Left side of the engine
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Air intake and Automatic starting relay box
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Exhaust
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Exhaust left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Exhaust right side with heath exchanger
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Detail of the heath exchanger
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Accessory gear box, clutch and starter-generator
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Main rotor head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Underside view of the main rotor head
(Serge Van Heertum©)

Main gearbox and rotor head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Main rotor head and end of a blade
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor assembly
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Right angle gear box
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor assembly seen on another angle
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor gear box and control of blade pitch
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Other angle of the gear box and tail rotor assembly
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor protection loop right side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Tail rotor protection loop left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Forward flight stability tailboom left fin
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Forward flight stability tailboom right fin
(Serge Van Heertum©)

General view of the hoist and the lifting bra
(Serge Van Heertum©)
25 meter pneumatic hoist
(Serge Van Heertum©)
View with the hoist structure and pneumatic hoses
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Detail of the hoist head and hook
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Electrical and pneumatic connectors
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Left view of the hoist head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Note the radar pulse antenna mounted on the hoist assembly
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Rear view of the hoist head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The other side of the hoist head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Right view of the hoist head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Nose wheel left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The nose gear and the deck fixing ring
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Right view of the nose gear
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Front view with indication plates
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The tow bar fixed on the nose gear
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Fixation detail on the nose gear with the safety pin
(Serge Van Heertum©)

The main gear
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Main gear assembly and main wheel detail
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Emergency floats right side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Emergency floats left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Emergecy floats general view
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Underside front view of the belly
1: Starbord position light - 2: Port position light - 3: Left and right footsteps - 4: ADF antennas - 5: DME transponder antennas
6: UHF/VHF antnna - 7: Pitot tube - 8: Landing light - 9: Glide-Slope antenna - 10: UHF-COM antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Landing light and Glide-Slope antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
UHF-COM antenna and DME transponder antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
UHF-COM antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Pitot tube, landing light and UHF/VHF antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
DME transponder antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
ADF antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
ADF antennas, anti-collision light and harpoon head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Underside anti-collision light and harpoon head
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Homing antenna array front view
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Homing antenna array side  view
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Upper anti-collision light and UHF antenna left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Upper anti-collision light and UHF antenna right side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Cabin roof VHF antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
OAT (Outside air temperature) probe
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Port position light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Starboard position light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
VOR localizer antenna
(Serge Van Heertum©)
VOR localizer antenna and flux-valve
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Flux valve
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Boom position light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Radar Pulse Antenna left side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Radar Pulse Antenna right side
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Door handles
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hinge, forward door open blocking system and sliding window lock
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Left footstep
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Right pilot footstep
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Fuel cap and technical incations (White version)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Same indications (Yellow version)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Left side door release system in case of emegency
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Right side door release system in case of emegency
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Technical viewing holes
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Footsteps for rotor access
(Serge Van Heertum©)

Electrical power supply connected on the park outlet
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Electrical power supply trolley
(Serge Van Heertum©)

FN MAG 7.62mm machine gun
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Other view of the machine gun
(Serge Van Heertum©)

Two view of the upper dashboard
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The complete control panel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
External view with the joysticks
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Dashboard back side with the connectors
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Radio and navigation control panel
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Dashboard vie from outside
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Pilot seat, Control stick and rudder pedals
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Other view of the ontrol stick
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Flight engineer seat and view of the back of the cabin
(Serge Van Heertum©)
The Navy roundel will no more be seen in Belgian skies...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
This safety jacket is clearly a thing of the past now
(Serge Van Heertum©)
    
     
Goodbye beautiful old lady, discreet and efficient you were. One more page of Belgian aviation history is ended...
(Courtesy Alouette Flight via FB / DR©)

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