Last September the Fallschirmjägerregiment 31 of the Bundeswehr held a week-long exercise on and near the small airfield of Karlshöfen, which is north of Bremen. During one of the days, a Super Lynx of Marinefliegergeschwader 5 joined the action in order to exercise sling operations with the Super Lynx.
Purpose of the exercise on that particular day was to practice sling load operations between the army’s ground team and the navy’s helicopter crew. In order to do so, a Super Lynx traveled the short distance from Nordholz Naval Air Station to Karlshöfen airport.
After arrival at Karlshöfen, a short briefing was held with all participants and the underslung cable was attached to the cargo hook of the Super Lynx. Meanwhile, three pallets with “cargo” were positioned next to the runway.
When everything was prepared, the helicopter crew took off and flew towards the first pallet. Over there the helicopter descended to about 5 meters so that the static line reached the ground riggers. Before any further action could be taken, first the riggers had to pick the line with a hook. This hook was grounded into the earth in order to discharge static electricity from the helicopter. Once this was the case, the pallet was hooked onto the cable and the helicopter hoisted it into the air.
The helicopter then flew a circuit with the 400 kilo cargo attached. The cargo was then lowered onto the ground and after grounding the helicopter again, the soldiers could unhook the cargo from the sling. All this was done directly underneath the helicopter, with the strong downwash of the rotorblades blowing at you.
This exercise was repeated at all three pickuppoints for about an hour, after which it was time to take the sling cable abooard again and to proceed back to Nordholz.
Naturally this could only be done after the team from MFG 5 made a nice flyby at the airfield.
The video below gives an impression how close the helicopter came during the exercise
Hospital Medisch Spectrum Twente (MST) operates as part of the Trauma Centre a heliport for handling Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) flights. In addition, ambulance flights and flights for the transportation of human organs are allowed to be carried out on this heliport. This heliport is the gateway to the Medisch Spectrum Twente when every second counts.
In the Twente region, MST is the only hospital with a heliport. The choice for MST was logical, on the one hand because the hospital is one of the eleven trauma centres in the Netherlands and on the other because of its central location in the east of the country and close to Germany. Some 90 per cent of the trauma helicopters that land at MST come from Germany. On average, the heliport receives about 120 helicopters per year.
Previously the heliport was located next to the hospital. At this location the iconic Bundeswehr UH-1D “Huey” helicopters from the SAR76 station in Rheine were a common sight. When the hospital was renovated, the heliport was relocated to the current location on top of the building. In this way an approach path free of obstacles was possible.
A trauma helicopter is deployed at the request of the emergency services after a serious accident. Often in traffic, but also, for example, after an incident in or around the house. In many cases, the helicopter flies in to get a specialised doctor to the accident site quickly. Patients or wounded are only transported by helicopter if they are stable, so sometimes a helicopter returns ’empty’ to the hospital to pick up only the medical staff.
The Netherlands has four so-called lifeliners, which are deployed in the north, south and west. Twente and the Achterhoek are mainly covered by the Christoph Europa 2 from Rheine, backed up by the Christoph Westfalen from Münster and the Christoph 8 from Lünen.
The majority of the patients that are transferred to the Medisch Spectrum Twente by helicopter originate from incidents in the Twente region and the neighbouring area in Germany. Most of the time this is done with the Christoph Europa 2, an EC.135 of ADAC Luftrettung based in Rheine. This type of helicopter weighs about 3000 kilos, can carry 4 seated persons (including the pilot) and 1 patient on a stretcher. This mini hospital can fly at a maximum speed of 260 km/h. After arriving at the helideck, the patinet can quickly be transferred to the emergency room to receive the treatment needed.
If something happens somewhere, the pilot and doctor together decide where to fly to. The pilot knows what distance can be flown, the doctor knows where the patient in question can receive the best care. It is noticed that more and more people are transferred to Enschede.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, helicopters were also used to transfer patients from one hospital to another. In the Netherlands the Lifeliner 5 was pressed into service (see more in this article) and visited Enschede several times as well.
Christoph Europa 2
The air rescue centre in Rheine has existed since 1982. Initially operated by the German Armed Forces with a Bell UH-1D SAR helicopter under the designation SAR 76, ADAC Luftrettung took over the station in 1998. Because of its proximity to the Dutch border, the “yellow angel” was given the call sign “Christoph Europa 2”. It is the second rescue helicopter to be given the name “Europa”. It is meant to make clear that helicopters in border areas do not stop at national borders and also care for patients in neighbouring countries.
The Mobile Medical Team (MMT) has Airbus helicopters at its disposal. The EC-135 (H135) from Airbus is used as a trauma helicopter, also called Lifeliner. The helicopter is mainly used when the doctor and the nurse of the MMT must be at the scene as soon as possible. A trauma doctor can perform certain actions and interventions that an ambulance nurse is not allowed to do. Life-saving activities can therefore already be started outside the hospital. The heli-MMT is usually deployed in case of serious accidents where quick start of medical treatment is important.
As of the 24th of March 2020 the fifth Mobile Medical Team (MMT) took to the air with an additional trauma helicopter to quickly transport intensive care patients. This helicopter was deployable throughout the Netherlands. In view of the growth in the number of patients infected with the coronavirus, it has been decided to use this helicopter in addition to the existing MMT service to get patients to the right hospital even faster and thus relieve the burden on road transport. The helicopter (type H145) was made available by the ANWB Medical Air Assistance (MAA) and has been fully equipped by Radboudumc for the transport of intensive care patients.
Besides the obvious subjects, the heliport every now and then also receives visitors that are not so often seen in the Twente region. Below are some examples.
Tuesday 30 July 2019 saw the arrival of the 10th aircraft for dismantling with AELS at Twente Airport.
After AELS had already obtained and dismantled several Boeing 747s, 737s and Airbus 340s, it was now a new aircraft type that arrived, the Airbus 330. In this particular case A330-223 CS-TOI from TAP Portugal flew from Lisbon to Twente.
Recently TAP has started to take delivery of the A330-900neo. This newer version of the Airbus 330, equipped with newer engines is more fuel efficient and therefore the “classic” 330s are phased out, with CS-TOI being the first airframe.
The 22 year old aircraft with constructionnumber MSN195 was the second prototype for the Airbus 330-200 subversion, which was developed after the original A330-300 and is shorter. The aircraft’s first flight with registration F-WWKJ took place in December 1997 at Airbus’ Toulouse facility.
In May 1999 Austrian Airlines took delivery of the aircraft under registration OE-LAN with the name Arlberg. TAP – Air Portugal then took delivery of the aircraft in July 2007, where the aircraft got the name Damião de Góis. The last flight in service of this airline was on 29 July 2019 when it returned from Luanda in Angola.
The next day, the aircraft that still carried full TAP colours was flown by a crew of 2 to Twente Airport as flight TP9757. There it joined an ex-Qatar A.340 and an ex-Kuwait Boeing 747 that are already in various stages of dismantlement with AELS.
A nice thing to know is that there actually is a connection between this particular Portuguese Airbus and The Netherlands. As mentioned before, the aircraft is named Damião de Góis. This philosopher lived in the Netherlands between 1523 and 1544 and was also known as Damiaan van der Goes.
On the 24th of May 2019 Twente based company AELS received a unique aircraft; the sole Kuwait Airways Boeing 747-400M 9K-ADE arrived directly from Kuwait.
Little information was given prior to the arrival of this Jumbo. The reason behind this was that when a Qatar Airways Airbus 340 arrived earlier in May, the nature reserve surrounding the airport was “invaded” by people who wanted to see the arrival. These persons did not stick to the rules and wandered off the paths into areas where birds were breeding.
Since this was an undesirable situation, this time it was chosen not to make any public announcements prior to the arrival of the Boeing .
This was not the first Boeing 747 to arrive at Twente Airport, as AELS had dismantled two KLM 747s before. But why is this Kuwait Airways airframe so special?
The aircraft is so special because this was the only Boeing 747-400M that was ever operated by Kuwait Airways. From an airline’s perespective, this makes no sense at all. If you have only one example of a particular aircraft type in your fleet, then you will have a rather high operational cost for that airframe. You will have to maintain a stock of spare parts, need qualified engineers and tools, just for this single aircraft.
The reason that Kuwait Airways operated this Boeing 747 (which was delivered in 1994) is that it was previously used by the State of Kuwait. In this role, it was part of the fleet of aircraft that was used to transport the Emir, Royal Family and other government officials. After the Kuwait Government obtained a new Boeing 747-8, this particular aircraft was handed over to Kuwait Airways.
Little was changed on the interior, so that it was still available as a back-up plane, in case needed. The interior therefore sports some special features that you will not find on a regular Boeing 747.
The upper deck, for example, was strictly off limits to regular passengers. This upper deck was reserved for the VIP guests, with a lavish seating area, a bedroom and a bathroom equipped with shower.
Passengers on the lower deck could note that there was a large portion of the centre section that was walled off. In a normal 747, this area would house the centre rows of seats. However, in 9K-ADE this area houses an operating room. Surely, that is not something you see every day.
In January 2019, the aircraft made the last commercial flight from Doha to Kuwait City, after which it was withdrawn from use. On the 24th of May Al-Jabriya departed Kuwait City for last time, for a flight of 5 hours and 23 minutes to Twente Airport. There she arrived shortly after 20.00 local time.
After engine shutdown on the runway, she was towed to the AELS platform, where she now awaits her fate next to the Qatar Airways Airbus 340-600.
On the 16th of September 2018 Technology Base Twente, which is situated on the former Twenthe Airbase, organized an Open House to show people what exactly is happening in this rather unique area. Part of the Technology Base is Twente Airport, where a static show with a small airshow was put on.
In the beginning of 2018 it was announced that the Province of Overijssel would organize the Open House at the Technology Base Twente. It was then also mentioned that part of this open house would include a small airshow at Twente Airport. Given the fact that the airport is operational just over a year now, this was an ambitious statement which also shows the link with the surrounding area. Ever since the airport reopened, there has been an ever growing group of aircraft enthusiasts that follow the things that happen on the airfield.
In order to attend the open house, spectators had to order (free) tickets, as the maximum number of visitors was limited to 10,000. The area was only accessible by bike or shuttle bus to avoid congestion in the area.
Once on the field, visits could be made to various innovative companies, the fire exercise facilities and offcourse the airport. AELS also showed/sold aircraft parts in their display area. People could either buy oxygen masks, life vest, seatbelts, bit also complete aircraft seats.
Throughout the day several historical aircraft could be seen up close in the static display area. This ranged from the WW1 Staaken Z21 Flitzer to the 60s era Hawker Hunter.
In the afternoon between 13.30 and 15.00, the airshow took place. This show was opened with an 18-person parachute jump, where the parachutists landed in front of the crowdline. Then the flying display started with shows from the Dutch Thunder Yaks, Fokker Four, Pitts Special and a P-51 Mustang.
Dutch Thunder Yaks
Spotters in action
Crew enjoying the day
Obviously the day would not have been possible without the hard work of all the Twente Airport staff and several volunteers.
The month of January 2018 was a very busy month for Twente Airport, both within and outside of the fences. The reason for this was the arrival of no less than 3 heavy widebodies in one week. All three aircraft made their final flight to Twente Airport, where dismantling would follow by AELS.
Many people know the large aircraft boneyards like Mojave and AMARG, but AELS chose a different approach when it comes to aircraft dismantling. Costs can be saved by chosing to dismantle aircraft in the region where they come from, which already reduces the amount of fuel that is required to transfer the aircraft on the final flight.
What is AELS
AELS is an aircraft disassembly and dismantling company that provides full scale solutions for aircraft that have reached their (economical) end of life. The services of AELS can be split up in 3 segments, where they often come together in one project:
Aircraft disassembly and dismantling
Recycling of aircraft parts
The fact that AELS is a relatively small company means that they can quickly adapt and react to the customers’ needs.
History of AELS
The history of AELS starts with its founder, Derk-Jan van Heerden, a couple of years before the establishment of the company in April 2006. In that period Mr van Heerden asked himself what was happening with aircraft that had stopped flying and he decided to find out more on this subject. This proces lead to him graduating on this subject after which he began to create a business plan for AELS. After a short period with KLM Engineering & Maintenance, where he was responsible for the dismantling of a Boeing 747, AELS was founded by Mr van Heerden in 2006.
Nowadays the AELS team assists aircraft owners all over the world in the dismantling of their aircraft. AELS facilitates the complete process, from the arrival of the airplane to the sale of the last piece of aluminium. During the short existence of the company, more than 40 aircraft have already been processed in a sustainable manner, where the goal is to reuse all components.
Initially the disassembly activities were based at Woensdrecht, in the south of the Netherlands. The downside of this location was however, that wide-body aircraft could not be processed there, due to the lack of space. Therefore it was decided to move the company’s activities to Twente Airport, where the first airframe – a Swiss Airbus 340 – arrived on 27 April 2017. AELS then made clear that they had larger plans and were looking to acquire more airframes.
Three Widebodies in one week
By the end of December 2017, messages started seeping in that , after the arrival of the first KLM Boeing 747, more was to be expected at Twente Airport in January. Almost everybody believed that this would be the 2nd KLM Boeing 747, the PH-BFF. For many it came as a surprise that next to this Boeing, also 2 Air France Airbus 340s were scheduled to arrive at Twente.
A disadvantage of January is that normally the weather is not all that good, grey skies, low clouds, snow and rain dominate the winter period in the Netherlands. These weather conditions can cause issues at Twente Airport, as it is a VFR (Visual Flying Rules) only airfield. VFR dictates that there has to be a minimum cloud base of 1500ft and a visibility of 5 kilometers. Because of these reasons the flights were several times postponed to different dates and on the day itself the arrival time was also changed several times.
The first aircraft that was scheduled for arrival was Air France’s A.340-311 F-GLZI, which was due to arrive on the 19th of January. This aircraft was ferried from Paris – Charles de Gaulle to Twente Airport, a flight of approximately an hour. Due to a combination of strong winds and low ceiling, the flight was postponed several times on this day, after which the Airbus finally arrived at quarter to four. At that time, there was no longer a tow truck driver available, so that the aircraft was parked at Twente’s Runway 05 end. This was something that was appreciated by many aviation enthusiasts, but less by the members of the flying club. They could not use the 3km runway that weekend.
Next up was Air France Airbus 340 F-GLZR on the 22nd of January. On this day the crew was prepared early on the day to make the short flight form Paris to The Netherlands. However, because the flight was a non-commercial flight, they had to join the back of the queue at CDG to obtain a slot or get a towing truck for pushback. When finally F-GLZR’s symbol lit up on the Flightradar app, a sigh of relief went through everybody on or around Twente Airport.
Finally, on the 25th of January the last flight of KLM’s Boeing 747 PH-BFF “City of Freetown” was scheduled to take place from Amsterdam to Twente. This flight had received quite some publicity through the regional media channels, so the spotters hill at Twente was filled with spectators early that day already. This was the shortest flight of this week, but later it proved to be the most difficult one as well. All day long, the cloud base above Twente was to low, so that the flight could not take place at that point. Throughout the day, the AELS and Twente Airport staff were in contact with the flightcrew, who were already aboard the aircraft since 10 in the morning. Finally, by the end of the afternoon, the clouds broke and the ceiling was high enough.
When this became clear, the puzzling and brainstorming started. The Boeing had to arrive before the Universal Daylight Period (UDP) expired, as Twente is a VFR only airport. On the 25th of January this UDP ended at 17.30 local time. An extra problem was that prior to the arrival of the PH-BFF, two bizzjets were scheduled to arrive and depart. These aircraft had already departed their airport of origin, so cancelling them was no longer possible. These jets also had to leave Twente before the Boeing’s arrival, as otherwise they would be stuck at Twente (the runway would be blocked with a large piece of blue metal).
All in all this was a big puzzle, but in the end the last flight of the PH-BFF could take place. At 17.30 precisely, with the last bit of daylight, the wheels of the 747 were pushed against the tarmac for the very last time. After this, the City of Freetown was towed through the darkness towards the AELS platform. Before this could take place, first an A340 had to be repositioned, so that the Boeing could be parked next to Hangar 8. Once parked over there, the crew could finally exit the aircraft after a very long day. Flights to New York usually take them less time than this short hop.
After this flight, things got “quiet” at AELS. They now own 4 widebodies, of which two are parked at the former Runway 11 and two next to the AELS hangar. Only once these aircraft have been dismantled will there be space for new acquisitions. Who know what will be the next arrival….
On Friday 19 January 2018 Air France’s Airbus 340-311 F-GLZI made its last flight to Twente Airport, to be dismantled by AELS.
Long-time Airbus customer Air France is gradually replacing the Airbus 340 with the newer, more cost-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner. As a result, the Airbus 340 fleet is slowly phased out. Twente based aircraft dismantling company AELS was able to acquire two airframes, of which the first one was transferred on 19 January.
Airbus 340-311, the 84th A.340 built made its first flight on July 12th 1995 and has since flown with Air France for 22 years. Recently it made the last commercial flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
On 19 January 2018 the aircraft was initially expected to arrive at Twente Airport around 11 o’ clock in the morning. This was however postponed to 14.30 due to the weather along the route.
The flight was later postponed further due to availability of tugs at the departure airport and availability of Air Traffic Control slots. Finnaly the arrival time was changed to 16.00 local.
Shortly before 3pm the engines were started and take-off of flight AF370V could be witnessed on Flightradar. The flight then went north and entered Dutch airspace just west of Bergen op Zoom. Above Dordrecht the aircraft turned north-east in the direction of Twente, where it landed at 15.45.
The aircraft was then parked at the Runway 05, where the engines were stopped for the last time. The F-GLZI was then handed over to the new owner, who will slowly reduce it to small pieces.
On Monday 22 January 2018 sister ship F-GLZR will make the same journey.
Well, the answer was rather simple. The crew heard about the event and decided to have a look. Since the Fouga did not fit in with the event (it was buit after WW2), it was parked on the main platform of the airport and not with the event. The crew did however dress up for the occassion and perfectly blended in with the event.
Later in the afternoon I was lucky enough to move to the main platform to take pictures of the Fouga. On this occassion I also met the pilots Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk, who flew here from Lelystad Airport. Both of them are former Koninlijke Luchtmacht pilots who later made the move to various airlines as captains. After their retirement they are now using their time to support the DHJA and fly the Fouga. Fons is very well known in the Dutch aviation scene (and abroad as well), as he was the NF-5 Solo Display pilot with Twenthe Airbase based 315 Squadron during 1981/1982. These skills come in very handy when displaying the Fouga during the various airshows. Gerhard used to fly the F-104G Starfighter with 322 Squadron, based at Leeuwarden.
Both Gerhard and Fons receieved their initial jet training on the Fouga CM.170R Magister with the Belgian Air Force’s Voortgezette Vlieg Opleiding at Brustem. Here they both developed the love for this easy going whistle jet and they have been involved with the DHJA since its foundation in 1997.
The Fouga CM.170R Magister
The Fouga CM.170 Magister (and its navalised sister, the CM.175 Zephyr) was designed by Fouga’s engineersRobert Castello and Pierre Mauboisson. In 1948, development commenced at Fouga on a new primary trainer aircraft design that harnessed newly developed jet propulsion technology. The initial design was evaluated by the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air, AdA) and, in response to their determination that the aircraft lacked sufficient power for their requirements, was enlarged and adopted a pair of Turbomeca Marboré turbojet engines. First flying on 23 July 1952, the first production order for the type was received on 13 January 1954. Export orders for the Magister were received, which included arrangements to produce the type under license in Germany, Finland, and Israel. In addition, the related CM.175 Zéphyr was a carrier-capable version developed and produced for the French Navy.
While primarily operated as a trainer aircraft, the Magister was also frequently used in combat as a close air support platform by various operators. In the latter capacity, it saw action during the Six-Day War, the Salvadoran Civil War, the Western Sahara War, and the Congo Crisis. In French service, the Magister was eventually replaced by the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet. In total, 926 were built.
The Belgian Air Force operated 50 Magisters as primary trainers. The aerobatic team The Red Devils also used them as display aircraft. A small number of Magisters remained in use until September 2007, as flight maintenance aircraft for senior officers. The Belgian Air Force was the last country that used Magisters for full duty.
The Dutch Historic Jet Association currently owns two Fouga Magisters and is based at Lelystad Airport. The CM.170R with registration F-GLHF is a former French Air Force Magister with constructionnumber 406, which was delieverd to the Armée de l’Air in 1964. In 1997 the DHJA acquired this airframe and painted it in the striking red colours. The second airframe is former Belgian Air Force MT-37 (constructionnumber 312), which is not in flyable condition. This aircraft is painted in the coloursof the famour Red Devils aerobatics team.
When preparing to depart from Twente Airport in the afternoon, the jet did not want to start up, even after several attempts. Since the saying “Better safe than sorry” particularly applies to aviation, Fons and Gerhard decided to abandon the attempts and park the Fouga in Hangar 9 (a former F-16 hangar) and return at later stage with the technicians. On Friday the 15th of September the Fouga could return to Lelystad after a faulty fuel-micro-pump was replaced.
Acknowledgements: I want to thank Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk for their time and the really nice conversations and explanation.