BDA : Winter Migration !

Text : Serge Van Heertum   -   Pictures : Belgian defence Aeroclub members © sbap 2012



The latest restructuring plans for the Belgian defence resulted in a closing of the airbase of Bierset near Liège. It has been decided that the airfield will be taken up by the civilian airport authorities. After the disappearance of the Mirage, it was the A109 and Alouette II helicopter units that took possession of these historic facilities. In 2010 the Agusta A109 fleet had to move towards Beauvechain airbase.
Bierset was until then the basis of the Belgian Defence Aero club and late November 2011 it was time for the flying club drenched in history to move to other facilities. The new location is Florennes airbase in the Belgian Ardennes that became the new attachment point of the BDA and its six planes. To mark this new chapter in their history the members decided to make a special flight…the migration would be together in formation. After careful preparations, the date of November 28 was chosen.

Flashback…The FBA flying Club (Force Belge en Allemagne / Belgian Forces in Germany) was founded by Cdt Avi Jean Bonnevie in 1962 on the Butzweilerhof airfield. Equipped with a single Piper PA.19, the main goal was to create a pilot reserve for the needs of the light aviation corp. Gradually, the flying club extended and because of a good financial health, two Cessna 172 Skyhawk were acquired. Between 1970 and 1980, the flying club was on zenith and was present on three airfields simultaneously (Butzweilerhof, Werl and Aachen-Merzbrück). The decision to leave Germany and all the defence facilities resulted in the repatriation of the flying club in Belgium. Following the establishment in component structure, the flying club was renamed Belgian Defence Aeroclub. During its history, the flying club saw many young pilots get their PPL. Some of them made a career in the defence; this is the case of our national astronaut Frank De Winne ... ... A very nice adventure with a handful of enthusiasts.
By the way, the
Belgian Defence Aeroclub former FBA Aeroclub BSD will be recognised as RBDA: « Royal » Belgian Defence Aeroclub in 2013, due to its official recognition in the “Moniteur belge” in 1963. It will be proudly mentioned and related through press releases.

Back to November 28, 2011 ... The big day has arrived. All members were present early in the morning for the final departure from Bierset bathed in a bright winter sun like one in the finest Indian summers. After the briefing everyone knew what to do and knew his position in the formation. It was now time to remove the aircraft from the so characteristic Bierset shelter and prepare the aircraft for the great transhumance. All pilots strapped in, proceeded to start as soon as permission was given by the tower. A long taxi to Runway 23L and a last mocking hello to the giants in the air park in the cargo area of the airport. Then it was the takeoff and a last formation pass on the outskirts of the former military base, nostalgia when you hold us! The flight was used to do some souvenir pictures and it was soon Florennes area which passed under the wings. The formation broke and it was the fastest aircraft (Cessna 172 and PA.28) that landed first. The welcoming committee was indeed present in the person of Colonel Michel Colles, Base Commander, that came in person to welcome its new tenants. The mission ended as it should with a warm and friendly drink and as in all the traditional squadron bars, the discussions went well and the memories resurfaced. This again turned a page in history and a mission carried out efficiently by a handful of enthusiastic without which the story of the flying club could not continue.

The fleet :

OO-HBI Cessna F 150L (c/n 0747)
OO-HBT Cessna F 150M (c/n 1254)
OO-HBU Cessna F 172N (c/n 1916)
OO-HBY Cessna 172S "Skyhawk" (c/n 8601)
OO-HBQ Piper L-18C "Super Cub" (PA-18-95) Ex OL-L56 (c/n 18-3130)
OO-TWA Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee E c/n 28-5608

Early the morning everybody is present at EBLG... ...last day at Liège-Bierset for the Belgian Defence Aeroclub
The mission briefing for the move in formation to the new homebase Time to prepare the planes
Taken out of the shelter  
  Pre Flight inspection
Oil verification  
The old timer is coming out The Piper "Cub" like in the begining of the aeroclub history in Germany
Wonderfull flight conditions The fleet is ready and awaiting the departure
Preparation of the crew Seems to be painfull to leave Bierset...
The weather conditions are good Ready to start up
The old timer is opening the way Last taxi at Bierset airbase...after the Mirage and the A109
Passing thru a giant Sunny day for a special flight
Take off A last pass above Bierset Airbase
And a last view of the runways In formation heading Florennes
The "Cub" is still opening the way The Cessna 150 above wind
Smog in the valley Close formation for some pictures
Right turn Above the famous carreer near Florennes
Smile ! Arriving above Florennes and a F-84F in middle of the picture
Landing on 08 left New homebase atempted safely
Base commander Colonel Michel Colles awaiting the new tenants The Cessna fleet aligned on the taxi way
The star of the club arrives ! On the way to the parking
A last souvenir of this flight for the "Cub" crew And the tradition...after flight drink

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