(Serge Van Heertum)

    Beauvechain : A day with The Red Devils !   

Text : Serge Van Heertum  -  Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Marc Arys & Luc Dujardin - ©SBAP 2011 



Beauvechain Air Base 8 o'clock in the morning, this Belgian Air Force training base is waking up and the personal is busy to rejoin their units. It is the same for four instructor pilots of the 5th Squadron. Nothing special on a Monday morning after a quite week-end, behalf that the four instructors are also the pilots of the Red Devils team. Indeed, the first job of our early morning guys is to share their knowhow and experience to the young student that will become a future fighter, helicopter or transport pilot, but more as that, they are also the ambassadors of the Belgian Air Force. After some administrative tasks and a good cup of warm coffee, it is already 9 o'clock, time for the briefing. This morning a Red Devils training flight is planned. The leader, Cdt Alain "Papy" Collard makes an overview of all the important topics like the weather forecast, the general base information (runway in service, local conditions, specific limitations...), and the emergency procedures. After this complete overview, together, in their mind, they repeat all the flight maneuvers of the demonstration. Time now to rejoin the planes because this will be a long day and afterwards the students are waiting for their own flights of the day. Four red aircrafts are ready in front of the hangar and the technicians are waiting for their pilots. After the traditional turnaround of the SF.260, The technician helps the pilots to strap. Everybody is now awaiting the orders of the leader "Papy" and quickly the "go" is given. The four Lycoming engines start in a perfect set. The engines run during a couple of minutes to get the correct oil temperature of 140°c. Last verifications and settings...chocks removed and one by one the planes are moving. Here we go, Red 1 on taxi followed by "Stef" Red 2, "Al" Red 3 and finally "Mel" Red 4 (He is also the solo of the team). Taxiing to the runway is also performed in a perfect formation!
Holding point of the runway 22R is attempt and there the program is changing...It is now the unfair weather display that will be performed today contrary to the forecast provided in the briefing. In fact, the cloud base became too low and there was also some heavy wind. The unfair demonstration was held without any problems and during around 20 minutes the sky of Beauvechain Air Base was only for them! After all the perfect figures of the display, a last pass and tactical break before the landing is performed.
Back to the parking and engine cut off again in a perfect set. Immediately the technicians are taking over the planes for a check and our Devils are performing the hot debriefing on the tarmac. Communication and coordination is the display team’s key of success. This training is now over, time to go for the other task of the day.
During the display season, the pilots are performing a minimum of two trainings a week. Generally the training flights are held on Wednesday, one in the morning and one in the late afternoon.
We can feel that our pilots and their technical crew are proud to be the ambassadors of Belgium Air Force around Europe, more to say, to wear again this glorious and famous name of "Red Devils”, the display team that wrote some major chapters of the Belgian Air Force history with red planes and sometimes white smoke, sometimes black, yellow and red smokes.
Thanks to Comopsair IPR and Beauvechain Air Base authorities, it was possible to perform this report. By these few lines we would show our gratitude for the granted


  Pilots   Technical crew  

Cdt Alain "Papy" Collard
Lt Stefaan "Stef" Braem
Cpt Albert "Al" Baltus
Lt Olivier "Mel" Gilson


Adj Serge Jacob (Mascot designer)
Adj Johan De Vos
Adj Peter Creces
Sgt Steve Paulissen
Adj Guy Moinet (not on pictures)
Sgt Bram Louage (not on pictures)



See also our team 2011 presentation :  RED DEVILS 2011


Welcome to the briefing (Luc Dujardin) Fair weather figures explanaitions  (Serge Van Heertum)
The wingmen...(Serge Van Heertum) Gentlemen...time check  (Serge Van Heertum)
(Serge Van Heertum)
Review of the figures to be executed during the training flight
(Luc Dujardin)
Hand movements is the best way to explain the flight (Luc Dujardin) Eyes closed...flying in their mind  (Serge Van Heertum)
Aircraft ready...  (Serge Van Heertum) ...waiting their pilots  (Serge Van Heertum)
Leader office   (Serge Van Heertum) Majestic Red Devils !  (Serge Van Heertum)
Red wheels (Luc Dujardin)
The needed complicity between the pilot and his technician...(Luc Dujardin) ...concreted by an handshake (Luc Dujardin)
Turn around  (Serge Van Heertum) (Serge Van Heertum)
Strapping  (Serge Van Heertum) A last check with the technician  (Serge Van Heertum)
"Papy"  (Serge Van Heertum) "Stef"  (Serge Van Heertum)
"Al"  (Serge Van Heertum) Mel"  (Serge Van Heertum)
Red 1                                                         Red 2 Red 3                                                             Red 4
(Luc Dujardin)
Waiting the leader orders and the start up  (Luc Dujardin) Running  (Luc Dujardin)
Oil temperature is increasing...  (Serge Van Heertum) ...to the needed 140°C  (Serge Van Heertum)
"Comme à la parade"   (Marc Arys) Taxi   (Marc Arys)
A salute to his pilot  (Luc Dujardin) The ballet begin  (Luc Dujardin)
During the taxi the flight controls are checked  (Serge Van Heertum) Formation take off  (Serge Van Heertum)
Box formation   (Marc Arys) The same formation air to air (K.Tokunaga via COA IPR)
On last minute, this is the unfair wether demonstration...  (Serge Van Heertum) ...due to the cloud base and the wind gust  (Serge Van Heertum)
Square formation  (Serge Van Heertum) Split !  (Serge Van Heertum)
Pair crossing  (Serge Van Heertum) Low pass gear down  (Serge Van Heertum)
Ladder formation  (Serge Van Heertum) Slow but low...  (Serge Van Heertum)
Out of a looping  (Serge Van Heertum) and agin a pass in box formation  (Serge Van Heertum)
Final burst in front of the public  (Serge Van Heertum) And tha national colours in the sun  (Serge Van Heertum)
Final break before landing...top...  (Serge Van Heertum) ...top...  (Serge Van Heertum)
Every trainings are filmed by a technician
The goal is to debate the flight afterward
(Serge Van Heertum)
Taxi back is also perfect   (Marc Arys) Turn to the apron  (Serge Van Heertum)
Training is over  (Serge Van Heertum) Refueling for the next flight. Aircraft are also used for the student
(Serge Van Heertum)
Hot debriefing  (Serge Van Heertum) And back to the squadron building  (Serge Van Heertum)
Technician are taking the machine over for a control (Luc Dujardin) The pilot have a stick...the technician a screwdriver...  (Serge Van Heertum)
Pilot and technician, the Belgian Air Force ambassadors together !  (Marc Arys)

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