Open Dagen 2006 - Leeuwarden Airbase


Text : Marc Arys - S.B.A.P. - (and the Dutch press information service)


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On June 16 and 17, 2006 Leeuwarden airbase was home of the Open Dagen 2006 of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht or Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF).

Leeuwarden Air Base, situated in the northern part (Friesland) of the Netherlands, was officialy opened in June 1938 with a grass airstrip from 800 x 800 meter. Sadly the war started soon after and the airfield was rendered inoperable by Dutch military. After the capitulation of the Netherlands,  Leeuwarden was, as were plenty of Dutch airfields, used by the German Luftwaffe.
One German officer could have said : "Aus diesem Fussballfeldchen werden wir mal einen richtigen Flugplatz machen" - out of this little football-ground we will grow a sound airfield... and so it was to be.
Leeuwarden became one of the most important operational bases in the Netherlands.

After the war, Leeuwarden airbase saw the arrival of the Gloster Meteor followed by the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter and finally in 1979 the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.

In 1992 the 323Sq was renamed the TACTESS - Tactische Training, Evaluatie en Standaardisatie Squadron (Squadron for tactical training, evaluation and standardisation) of the Koninklijke Luchtmacht.

Besides serving as homebase for the integrated exercise 'Frisian Flag', Leeuwarden serves also as a testbase for new weaponsystems, i.e. de MLU (midlife update), the targeting pods and the F-16 night vision goggles. As such, the twinseat F-16BM 'Jolly Jumper' resides since 1999 on the base with the Kantoor Testvliegen - Flight Testing Bureau.

In 1977 Leeuwarden airbase became the home too of the Search and Rescue 303 Squadron wich flies the Agusta AB-412 SP since 1994.

During the latest airshow a great variety of aircraft and helicopters, Dutch and foreign, were present and could be seen in the static area as well as during the flight demonstrations with some strong and beautiful flying displays. Just to summarize some : Christian Moullec and his geese ; the Spanisch EF-18A Hornet ; the Belgian F-16 ; the RNLAF F-16 , PC-7, AB-412 and CH-47 Chinook; the Czech Mi-24 ; the  USAF F-15 Strike Eagle : not to forget the simulated airfield attack involving eight RNLAF F-16 and some pyrotechnics effects ended by a simulated air-air refueling with a KDC-10 and one F-16.
The simulated airfield attack launch was a temporarely hampered by a little deer taking the runway and surrounding grassfield as its own 'display' area, but after a few minutes chose wisely to go back to its 'wooded' habitat. 

Besides these individual items the public could also witness the professionalism and mastery of various teams :

Hunter Formation Asas de Portugal Midnight Hawks
- their name taken from the fact
that much of their display flights
are flown at midnight in Finland
Royal Jordanian Falcons The Red Arrows La Patrouille de France
La Patrouille Suisse Fokker Four The Heritage Flight
.... and last but not least after 14 years since their previous visit to Europe

the United States Navy Blue Angels

As June 2006 saw the 60th anniversary of the US Navy Blue Angels, a special tribute flight took place on Friday June 16, 2006 including the Red Arrows and the Blue Angels flying together in one formation (see our photoreport pages).

On Friday June 16, 2006 Blue Angel #5 encountered a little problem when the right main tire blew on take-off. The aircraft circled the airfield and made an arrested landing. The pilot was rushed to the spare aircraft # 7 and then took off to rejoin the rest of the team and perform a flawless display. Lcdr Ted Steelman explained later on that his speed was already to high, nearing rotation velocity, for a safe roll out on the runway So he elected to take-off after wich he made his succesful arrested landing.

You can see smoke trailing from the right main tire,
moments before take-off
Perfect arrested landing
Lcdr. Ted Steelman taking of in the spare aircraft #7


The members of S.B.A.P. witnessed all of these flying beauties and more than words they bring you a fabulous photoreport on this event. The photographs, taken by Serge & Marc, are depicted by chapter and are presented in a mix of pictures shot on Friday and Saturday.

You will also notice that the weather on Friday was not as splendid as on Saturday. This is clearly visible in the pictures. These were not altered nor digitally improved, as to render the natural environment in wich the pilots had to fly !


We would like to thank all the people of the 'Staf Voorlichting Vliegbasis Leeuwarden' in general and Major SIKKENS and his staff in particular as well as Major VAN HELVERT, RNLAF and Adjt. Chef Peter DEWAEL, Belgian Air Component for their dedication, care and obligingness to the members of S.B.A.P. regarding this event.


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