Ten new pilots deploy their wings

Text & Pictures : Serge Van Heertum & Marc Arys - SBAP

June 11th, without any doubts an important date in the life of the ten new pilots of the Belgian Air Component who received their wings from Mister Pieter De Crem, Minister of Defence, this Friday at Beauvechain Air Base.
It was a sunny day as well in the sky as in the hearts of the student pilots that could feel their dreams come true. This important day in their career was underlined with the presence of Lieutenant General Aviator Claude Van De Voorde chief of the Air Component, General Gérard Van Caelenberghe chief of operations, many invited personalities and of course the families.
The ten graduates have still a long way to become fully operational. Eight of them will take heading to  Cazeau (France) to continue their fighter pilot formation and the two others will continue their helicopter formation.
For a long time now in the Air Component, the tradition is that the auxiliary pilot promotion is given a Godfather. Today the Lieutenant General Aviator Armand Crekillie was honoured by the young pilots and taken as example for the young generation.

Who was the Lieutenant General Aviator Armand Crekillie?


(Archive Comopsair)

Armand Crekillie was born in 1921 in Oostende (Belgian coast). In 1941 he
enlisted as a volunteer in the Belgian Armed Forces in Great Britain and was integrated in the Belgian section of the Royal Air Force. He became Pilot Officer in 1943 and Flying Officer in 1944.
Between 1944 and 1945, Armand Crekillie was integrated in the 609 auxiliary Squadron and performed 95 war missions aboard the Hawker Typhoon. Many missions where conducted above the Belgian Ardennes, above Germany and also above the Netherlands.
Due to his merits during this period, he was hon
oured and received the "Croix de guerre 1940 avec palmes".
In October 1945, he moved to the 349 Squadron and in 1948 this Squadron was integrated in the 1st Wing.
From May 1948 until October 1949, Captain Crekillie was appointed to the night fighters and became Mosquito instructor at the fighter school later on.
After a period at the Belgian Air Force headquarters, he became chief of the 2nd Wing flying group. He continued his career as Lieutenant Colonel and between 1958 and 1960 he was the base commander of the 2nd Wing.
Later on he went back to the headquarters as director for the unmanned vehicles and next was appointed head of operations. Installed Colonel, in 1964 he became Chief of the TAF (Tactical Air Force) headquarters and in 1968 deputy chief of the Belgian Air Force.
In 1969 he was appointed General-Major and became head of the Tactical Air Force in 1971. March 15th, 1972 Armand Crekillie became Lieutenant General and was chosen as chief of the General Headquarters.
The Lieutenant General Aviator Armand Crekillie deceased in Oostende on October 11th, 2006.


Remember this sunny day...

Panoramic view of the static display (Marc Arys)

From basic training to fighter (Serge Van Heertum)

Siai Marchetti SF.260, basis of flight (Serge Van Heertum)

Alpha Jet 1B at Cazaux, the next step for the future fighter pilots
(Serge Van Heertum)

F-16AM, the future aircraft of the new jet graduates
(Serge Van Heertum)

Alpha Jet of the French Air Force based at Tours, the advanced training
(Serge Van Heertum)
Embraer EMB121 “Xingu”, advanced training for transport pilots
based at Avord (Serge Van Heertum)

The future through the SF.260 canopy… (Serge Van Heertum)

The sky is the limit… (Serge Van Heertum)

The fighter pilot course through the tails… (Serge Van Heertum)

F-16BM…after Cazaux Alpha Jet, the OCU (Serge Van Heertum)

Positioning of the troops (Marc Arys) View of the parade ground (Marc Arys)

The graduates waiting the begining of the ceremony (Serge Van Heertum)

National colours and anthem (Serge Van Heertum)
Salute to the nation (Marc Arys)
Colonel Patrice Laurent, General Claude Van De Voorde and
Mr Pieter De Crem Minister of Defen
ce spending the troops (Serge Van Heertum)
The ceremony led by Beauvechain base commander Colonel Patrice Laurent
(Serge Van Heertum)
A great moment in a pilot's life…
...the wings, after years of dedication (Serge Van Heertum) & (Marc Arys)
The traditional fly-past to welcome the new pilots :
Agusta A109 in HATk version (Serge Van Heertum)

The basic trainer Siai Marchetti SF.260
(Serge Van Heertum)

The fighters…Lockheed-Martin F-16’s (Serge Van Heertum)

Lockheed C-130H, transport aircraft (Serge Van Heertum)

National anthem… (Serge Van Heertum)

…and the traditional cap launch (Serge Van Heertum)

The mascot of the 1st Training Wing...Arco
Marc Arys)
Posing for the photographs with Mr Pieter De Crem MOD
and General Claude Van De Voorde (Marc Arys)

Some souvenir pictures with the Minister of Defense (Serge Van Heertum)

A special day for Kolonel Peter Lepez…and his graduated son (Serge Van Heertum)

And to close the ceremony…a powerfull F-16AM demonstration by Mitch Beulen (Serge Van Heertum)

Congratulations !   Fly high and always safe landing !


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