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Luchtmachtdagen  Gilze-Rijen AB 19/21 June 2014

On June 20th and 21st the RNLAF Air Force Days were held at Gilze-Rijen Airbase. A nice variety of aircraft and helicopters visited this RNLAF helicopter base in Southern Netherlands to participate in the airshow. The first day already saw 65.000 spectators, followed by no less than 180.000 spectators on the second day. On the arrival day a spotters day was organized by the local spotters community GRAS which was attended by approximately 500 aviation enthusiasts. The weather conditions were challenging during the event, but at least it was dry for most of the weekend.

 

Out of area

The gates opened at eight o’clock in the morning, with the interesting part of the air display starting around eleven o’clock, there was plenty of time to visit the static display area. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Operatie Luchtsteun’ (Operation Air Support), to show the public where the various Dutch defence components are active around the world. In the shelter area parts of the missions in Afghanistan,  Mali and Somalia were shown.  On

the grass an ‘out of area’ compound was simulated starring three Apaches and two Chinooks. The small runway 02/20 was used for the biggest part of the static display. It was very nice to see the F-4E-2020 Phantoms from Turkish Airbase Eskisehir back at Gilze-Rijen after their participation in 2005. Some other highlights of this years static display were the two MiG-29s from Poland and Slovakia, the Portuguese C-295M and the Polish build PZL SW-4 Puszczyk helicopter which visited The Netherlands for the first time.

 

Time of your life 

The morning saw some air displays from the local based RNLAF Historic Flight. Followed by some Alouette 3 displays which celebrates its 50 year anniversary this year. Around eleven o’clock in the morning the Royal Air Force ‘Red Arrows’  took to the sky to perform a fantastic display.

 

Operation Air Support was also visible in the air display. Two F-16s simulating the QRA task took off to intercept a Boeing B.787-8 Dreamliner operated by Arke Fly. This is the first Dreamliner registered in the Netherlands. When the B.787-8 was safely escorted out of the area, hell broke lose. It was time for the airpower display. Various scenarios were simulated with multiple explosions, air attacks and evacuations. A total of twelve RNLAF helicopters took part in the airpower display, four Apaches, four Chinooks and four Cougars. It was very disappointing to see only four F-16s taking part in the airpower display.

 

After a 30 minute break an aircraft with some very special passengers arrived at Gilze-Rijen. It was one of the last flights of the MD-11 operated by KLM with approximately fifty ill children on board. The ‘Hoogvliegers’ (High Flyers) Foundation regularly organize flights for terminally ill children to give them the time of their life. After their arrival the MD-11 was parked at the beginning of runway 20, and the children were transported to the public area. At the end of the day the kids boarded the MD-11 again and flew back to Schiphol.

 

 

 Arrivals & Rehearsals

19 June 2014

 

Luchtmachtdagen Day 2

21 June 2014

 

 

Static Display

21 June 2014

Many cancellations

One of the highlights intended for the static display were the two UH-72 Lakota of US Army base Hohenfels, unfortunately they didn’t get the approval from higher command. The Polish MiG-29 display also intended to take part in the air display, but this was changed into static display as the display team had to participate in an airshow at the French airbase Cazaux. Another big cancellation was the participation of the Breiting Jet Team operating the L-39 trainers. Their participation was blocked by the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate, which believes their display is not within safety limits.

 

Due to various short notice cancellations there were a lot of gaps in the air display. Despite that we saw a nice variety of helicopters and fighter aircraft performing to their limits. The RNLAF Apache display team with pilots Major Roland “Wally” Blankenspoor and Major Harm “Kaas” Cazemier gave a nice display with lots of flares. The second RNLAF team to perform at Gilze-Rijen is the F-16 display team with pilot Jeroen “Slick” Dickens from 323 Sqn, pushing the jet to the edge in his first display season. This was not the only F-16 display during the Luchtmachtdagen 2014 as both the Belgian and Hellenic F-16 display team showed their abilities.

 

One of the highlights of this years air display was the MiG-29 Fulcrum of the Slovak Air Force. Although the Fulcrum is not nearly as agile as the F-16 it is always nice to see these old smokers at an airshow. A team rarely seen in Northern Europe is the Spanish helicopter display team Patrulla Aspa. This team operates five Eurocopter EC.120 Colibri’s and performs a nice tight display with some impressive formation flying. The Swiss F-18 Hornet display team was the closer of this year’s event.   (Click here for a full log)

        

 

 

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