Wings Parade at Beauvechain Airbase

February 21, 2008


Texte and photos Marc Arys - S.B.A.P.©


On February 21, 2008 S.B.A.P. witnessed the graduation of 8 new Belgian Air Component pilots.

8 new pilots:

    - 4 future 'Jet' pilots

    - 3 future 'Transport' pilots

    - 1 future 'Helicopter' pilot

Received their Wings from the hands of Lieutenant-General Gerard VAN CAELENBERGE, Commander of the Belgian Air Component :


This parade saw also another ceremony. The passing on of two renowned emblems of the Belgian Air Component, being the colours of the Red and the Green Cocotte.

The Cocotte made her appearance in France in 1916 and for the first time in Belgium during the summer of 1917, when the Belgian ace to be, Willy Coppens, adopted this emblem as his personal one. This emblem, with various presentations and colours was regularly witheld by the aeronautical military regiments of the pre-war period.
Disappeared during the tempestuous times in 1940, the Cocotte was reborn some 10 years later in December 1950 with the establishment of the 7 Day Fighter Wing at the Chièvres airbase.

The 3 Squadron to wear this insignia where respectively :

    - The 7 Sqn - Silver Cocotte on red background (or heraldicly spoken - Silver Cocotte on field of snout) - January 01, 1951

    - The 8 Sqn - Silver Cocotte on blue background (or heraldicly spoken - Silver Cocotte on field of azure) - July 16, 1951

    - The 9 Sqn - Silver Cocotte on green background (or heraldicly spoken - Silver Cocotte on field of sinople) - March 17, 1952

With the disbandments and restructurisations within the Belgian Air Force, the emblems will have various uses until 1971. The end of the Belgian-Netherland cooperation induced a reorganization of the pilot training. The Red Cocotte was given to the 7 Sqn which became responsible for the Advanced Flying Training and the Green Cocotte became the insignia of the 9 Sqn, responsible for the training of the instructor pilots. In August 2001 a last modification took place when the synergy between the 11 and 7 Sqn absorbed this 7 Sqn.

To maintain the traditions, it was decided to withheld just one 'Cocotte banner' given to one operational squadron. It had to be the eldest and so the Red Cocotte was adjudged to the 'Centre de Formation et d'Evaluation' (Flight Training and Evaluation Centre) instead of the insignia of the 9 Sqn. This latter being put aside with other disbanded squadron insignias in the hallway of VS, which in the meantime became COMOPSAIR.

As to continue the traditions, the emblem of the 7 Sqn was again given to a squadron responsible for the training of our pilots before their graduation, in this case to the Ecole de Chasse de Tours (French Air Force Fighter School at Tours) and the insigna of the 9 Sqn regained also its last assignement from 2001 : the Training and Evaluation Centre.

During this formal ceremony both Cocottes where handed over by Lt. Gen. Avi. Gerard Van Caelenberge and Col. Avi. Patrice Laurent to their new squadrons in the hands of Cdt. Avi. VAES for the Ecole de Chasse at Tours and Maj. Avi. DESIRON for the Training and Evaluation Centre. (historical overview courtesy of Col. Avi. Patrice Laurent)


The Wings Parade was concluded by a fly-past of various Belgian Air Component aircraft reduced by the poor weather conditions : 4 Agusta A-109 and 3 Siai Marchetti SF260D.

Congratulations to all and many happy landings !!!


More information to be found on : website of the Air Component


Texte and photos Marc Arys - S.B.A.P.©