• Luchtmachtdagen 2014

    Slovak MiG-29

    On Friday June 20 and Saturday June 21 the Royal Netherlands Airforce held their Luchtmachtdagen. This year the event took place at Gilze Rijen which is the helicopter base of the air force. From their point of view it was a great success with about 65000 attendants on Friday and about 180000 on Saturday. In fact it was so busy that on Saturday afternoon people were asked via radio not to come to Gilze Rijen, the parking places were full. The navy and army also have the opportunity to present themselves on this these days which are used as a recruiting event for the armed forces. This report is composed after visting Gilze Rijen on June 19 and 21.

    Slovak Mig-29UB, Polish MiG-29GT and CASA C-295М

    First arrivals for the show arrived on Wednesday, like the Greek F-16's and Patrulla Aspa, but the majority of the aircraft came on Thursday. They were witnessed by about 400 spotters that attended the spottersday. Thursday was a cloudy day with a fresh wind from the northwest and even rain in the late afternoon. The fixed wing aircraft nicely landed in front of the audience on runway 28, but most helicopters sneaked in from behind and landed directly at the static area at and near runway 02. In between the arrivals various rehearsals for the airshow took place.

    British Avenger T1 and Swiss F-18

    The most notable arrivals this day were the Mig-29's, 2 from Slovakia of which the single-seater was used for the airshow and the two-seater was placed on static. The Polish sent a former German airforce MiG-29GT for static display. The British sent a Tucano and Avenger T1 for static. The British Navy uses 4 of these for multi-engine and navigation training. A C 295M of the Polish and Portuguese airforce arrived to be used for static as well as German B 105's (plus 1 for the airshow), German EC 135T and Slovak L 410.

    Portuguese Casa C 295M, Turkish F-4E and Czech L-159

    Late in the afternoon with thick clouds after rain 2 Turkish F-4E's, French Mirage 2000D, a Xingu and 2 TB 30's landed. During the day a British Sea King HU5, a Polish SW 4 and a French Gazelle had sneaked in from behind. A new Belgian NH-90NFH arrived in the evening for the static and a Belgian Sea King arrived for a SAR demo during the airshow.

    Civil arrivals included former military aircraft like a OV-10B, O-2A and Chipmunk T10.

    F-16 from Greece and Belgian Air Force, Slovak MiG-29

    In total there were 3 F-16 practice demonstration by the Greek, Belgian and Dutch representatives. On this occasion the Greek pilot seemed to have lost sight of the crowd line as he managed to fly directly above the audience. The Swiss F-18 and Slovakian MiG 29 complemented the fast jet displays, with the Czech L 159 following closely behind. On the slower side there were helicopters like the AH-64A, Dutch NH 90NFH and an Austrian Allouette 3. This Allouette was a former Swiss example.

    The Saturday show was excellent mix of past and present in aviation. Apart from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight which flew their Lancaster and 2 Spitfires were all other historic performers are based in the Netherlands. The PBY-5 Catelina and Dakota arrived in the morning and the P-51 was already present from the day before. Most other historic aircraft are based at Gilze Rijen as part of Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht (Royal Airforce Historic Flight). They performed with the Beaver, 2 Harvards, 4 Fokker S-11's, the Spitfire and the B-25H.

    Red Arrows

    The Red Arrows did their, as always excellent, show in the morning as they had to return to England to give a display in the afternoon. Their transport was a truck, so no supporting C-130 to watch.

    Austrian and Dutch Allouette 3

    That Gilze Rijen is a helicopter base is reflected in the relative large number of helicopters that were participating in the airshow and were displayed on the static display. Apart from the Austrian Allouette 3 solo display there were 3 Dutch Allouette 3's performing a display. It is this year 50 years since the Allouette entered service with the Dutch airforce. There are only 4 examples still operational that are used for training purposes and transportation of members of the royal family.

    German Bo 105PAH, Dutch AH-64A and Belgian Sea King

    Other helicopter displays were given by a Dutch NH-90NFH, German Bo 105PAH, Dutch AH-64A and a Belgian Sea King. Belgian Sea Kings are nearing retirement with only 2 examples still operational. They are replaced by NH-90NFH's of which one example was shown on static.

    Patrulla Aspa demo team

    Patrulla Aspa with their EC 120B's was the largest helicopter demo team performing at Gilze Rijen. Coming this far is in itself an achievement. Their show is nice given the fact they are a part-time demonstration team with the aircraft and pilots primarily assigned for training duties.

    CH-47 Chinook

    The largest amount of helicopters were in the air during the Airpower demonstration. For this occasion 4 AH-64's, 4 CH-47's and 4 AS 532U's were used. 4 F-16's, a C-130H and a KDC-10 were the other assets used. It was as always good show with visual and sound effects to extend the experience. 2 CH-47's and 2 AS 532U's showed Bambi Bucket water drops. These capabilities are used in the Netherlands and abroad in case of wildfires.

    Airpower demo

    Additional Dutch helicopters were shown in the static area including some retired Bo 105's, Allouette 3's and SH-14D Lynx's.
    One of the special events during the airshow was a display of a Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It was recently delivered to Arke and was flown from Schiphol. On arrival it was escorted by F-16's in the way they would in case QRA interception. It made a couple of passes before returning to Schiphol. A Drealiner is really quiet. The pilot of the Dreamliner flew from Schiphol back to Gilze Rijen in the afternoon as he also had to fly the display of the Hunter.

    German Bo 105, Dutch KDC-10 and Hunter

    The other special event was the the arrival of the last MD 11 operated by KLM. It flew with a KDC-10 and both preformed a nice banking pass. This aircraft is to be retired soon and actually landed at Gilze Rijen. It left after the airshow with 50 children and their escorts organized via the Airsmiles Foundation (Stichting Hoogvliegers). Together with the ill and handicapped children was our Dutch astronaut André Kuipers.

    A lot of information regarding regarding aircraft pilots and teams is given by the commentary team. They are former pilots and one is colour blind. He could not describe the colour that was created after the red whit and blue smoke of the Red Arrows mixed. That is imaginable, but a Dutch C-130 is gray and not green. Furthermore, an L 159 is really different from an L 39. They kept talking as if an L 159 is similar to an L 39. They should do more research before next airshow they will comment.

    Dutch D0 228 and Czech L-159

    After the airshow I waited as long as possible because it is usually gives good opportunities to photograph the first departures. This day proved no different with a Czech C 295 arriving to support the departing L 159's. Both Dutch Coastguard D0 228's departed as did some civil attendants, the Dutch C-130H and the French TB 30's.

    In all it has been a great event with a lot of variety is aircraft displayed. The historic part of the show is similar to earlier editions and that is to be expected. It is good to see so many helicopters from different nations taking part in the event. The fighter jets showed what they are capable of with 3 F-16 demo's, an F-18, the L 159 and MiG 29.

    Next year there will not be airforce open days (Luchtmachtdagen) so we will have to wait till 2016.

    Hans van Zeeland
    June 2014