Col. Avi. René 'Pat' Demortier's

Last Flight

Beauvechain airbase - 26.03.2008

Text : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.©


Another well known pilot leaves the “air force”. During many years he did a really great but discrete job.

Before his last flight on Marchetti, the Colonel gave us an overview of his rich aeronautical career.

Colonel Aviator René 'Pat' Demortier was born on March 20, 1954, in Liege, BELGIUM. He joined the Air Force in April 1972 and earned his commission as 2nd lieutenant in 1975. Col Demortier attended his pilot training in BELGIUM where he graduated in 1974. He then went on to the squadron operational conversion on MIRAGE V.

In April 1975, he was assigned to the 2nd Tactical Wing in Florennes where he flew the MIRAGE V in the conventional attack role with the 2nd Squadron and reconnaissance role with the 42nd Squadron. In April 1978, he was assigned to the Training Command where, as an instructor, he flew both the FOUGA MAGISTER and the ALPHA JET in Sint Truiden.

In April 1981, he returned to the Tactical Air Force and flew the F-16 for the next 10 years primarily in the Air Defense role at Beauvechain. Assigned to the 349 Fighter Squadron, he started as flight member, passing through most of the functions in the squadron, to result as the Operations Officer from 1986 to 1988. Furthermore, during his Flight Safety function tour, including a position as Functional Check Flight pilot, he insisted that the maintenance personnel be involved in flying as much as possible with the purpose of achieving optimum understanding and teamwork.

Amongst other exercises, he participated also at the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP), the Tactical Air Meet (TAM), Red Flag, Very Low Level Training in Goose Bay, in Canada and in Morocco.

In 1985, he attended the Belgian Air Command and Staff College in Brussels. Assigned to Brussels HQ in April 1988, he worked in the F-16 requirements branch, at the Air Operations Headquarter, still flying F-16 as “Operational Reserve”. One of his primary tasks was the operational requirements regarding the F-16 Midlife Update (MLU) Program.

In April 1991, he was assigned to Wright Patterson AFB, Dayton, OH, USA, as the Belgian Operational Representative for the F-16 System Program Office (SPO). His primary task was once again the F-16 MLU.

He spent 4 years working between WPAFB - LOCKHEED MARTIN in Fort Worth, TX - EDWARDS AFB, CA - NELLIS AFB, NV - EGLIN AFB, FL, amongst many other places.

1995 saw his return to the Belgian Air Staff in Brussels as the Program Manager for the F-16 MLU program where he completed the integration program in 1998.

He was assigned to the 80 FTW at SHEPPARD AFB, TX as instructor pilot on the T-38 aircraft in April 1998, within the EURO NATO JOINT JET PILOT TRAINING (ENJJPT) Program.

In 1999, he was the first Belgian Officer to assume the command of the 90th Flying Training Squadron running over more than 40,000 flying hours and with the graduation of more than 230 new pilots each year from 11 NATO countries present in the program.

In 2001, he returned to Belgium and became responsible for the pilot training section in the Air Component Command and was promoted Colonel in December 2001.

In June 2002, he was assigned as the Chief Current Operations Branch, in the NATO Combined Air Operations Center 2 (CAOC 2) in KALKAR, Germany. A particular event on this assignment was the participation in the accession into NATO of the 3 Baltic republics : Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

In September 2004, he assumed the function of A3, Chief Operations, at the Air Component Command and from September 2005 on, he assumed his current function as the Chief of Staff at the Air Component Command.

Colonel Demortier is a Senior Pilot with more than 4.400 flying hours, qualified as an Instructor Pilot on FOUGA MAGISTER, ALPHA JET, and T38 and qualified as a combat aircraft pilot on MIRAGE V and F16.

After his last flight from today, 'Pat' will continue administrative work at the headquarters and will also be flying Piper Cub for the Belgian Air Cadets.

In a couple of months, he will perform a final mission in a foreign country lasting four months,  before being able to spent all his time with his family.




Text : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.A.P.©