Between 1 and 5 July 2019 exercise Orange Bull was held in the Netherlands. Part of the exercise took part at Twente Airport.
Between 1 and 5 July 2019 exercise Orange Bull was held at Twente Airport. Orange Bull is an exercise from the Royal Netherlands Air Force 336 Squadron, based at Eindhoven Airbase. During this exercise several special forces like Commandos and the 11th Airmobile Brigade took part as well.
As part of the exercise, Twente Airport was the location for Tactical Air Landing Operations. This meant that that army pathfinders would guide the aircraft to the runway, where they had indicated the landing zone with orange markers. The loading crew would then quickly load and unload troops and vehicles, after which a tactical departure would follow.
In the weekend of 30 June 2018 the Twence waste recycling facility in Hengelo was struck by a large fire. The fire was so intense that the Koninklijke Luchtmacht had to assist the fire brigade with Chinook helicopters.
On the evening of 30 June 2018 the fire brigade was alarmed for a fire at Twence waste recycling. Upon arrival at 23.00, it quickly became clear that a lot of resources and water were needed to extinguish the large pile of garbage. Throughout the night extra fire crews were alarmed to avoid further spreading of the fire.
Soon it became clear the a fire this large could not be battled in the traditional way. Therefore the fire brigade asked the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF/Koninklijke Luchtmacht) for assistance; in the middle of the night Fire Bucket Operations (FBO) was alarmed. FBO is a partnership between the RNLAF, fire brigade Safety Region North and East Gelderland (VNOG) and the Institute for Physical Safety (IFV).
In the morning of the 1st of July, a RNLAF CH-47D Chinook flew to Hengelo to assist the fire brigades. Later in the afternoon a second Chinook arrived. Next to the helicopter crew, a FBO team was on site. This team consist of the Fire Brigade Heli-Team and the Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT DHC). This team coordinates the helicopter operations and also makes sure that the 10,000 liter Bambi Bucket is hooked up to the Chinook.
During the next 2 days, Chinooks flew to a quarry next to Boekelo in order to pick up water. The vicinity of this quarry made it possible to perform many runs over the fire. Normally approximately 10 runs could be made before the helicopters had to fly to Deelen Airbase for refuelling. The last drops were made around 20.00, after which the Bambi Bucket was returned to the FBO team and the Chinook returned to Gilze-Rijen airbase.
As a result of the assistance with the Chinooks, the fire brigade was able to contain the fire and reduce the smoke in a substantial way. In the evening of 2 July the fire brigade announced that the fire was under control.
The day we visited GLV-V was the day with the best weather forecast of the week, 27 degrees and sun. However, the day started cloudy, grey and rather windy, which made the stay not really that comfortable. We were therefore really waiting for either helicopter action, sunshine, or both.
The action started with a 301 Sqn Apache, exercising throughout the area. Unfortunately the sun was not out yet, otherwise the pictures would have been even nicer.
During the day, the army was also practising in the area with Bushmasters, Boxers and Fennecs, giving a nice variety of gear that could be seen in combination with helicopters.
In the afternoon, the sun came out and we were twice treated to a visiting Chinook (both time the same one). During the second visit, we had the opportunity to get close to the brown-out landing, which resulted in some very interesting pictures.
Throughout the Netherlands, there are several dedicated Low Flying Areas (Gebied Laag Vliegen – GLV). This report focuses on Low Flying Area 5, also referred to as GLV-V.
Just north of Eindhoven Airbase, the Oirschotse Heide can be found. The Oirschotse Heide is a large training area used by the Dutch Ministry of Defence next to the Generaal-Majoor De Ruyter van Steveninck Kazerne. The area is used by both the Royal Netherlands Army, as well as by the Royal Netherlands Airforce (RNLAF).
The area consists of woodlands, heath and sandplains, which offer a good training ground for both land- and airforces. A unique feature of this area is also that it is freely accessible for the public. There are no fences and you can freely walk around, as long as you stick to the rules mentioned at the entrances.
The RNLAF uses GLV-V to train helicopter crews. Apaches, Chinooks and Cougars of nearby Gilze-Rijen Airbase are very regular visitors to the area, where they either practice alone, with multiple helicopters, or together with ground forces. The terrain offers various options to practice landings in confined spaces, brown-out landings, or terrain masking techniques.
During my visit, the area was visited by a Chinook and an Apache. Both of them used the whole area of the GLV-V to practice their skills and frequently came close enough for good pictures. Sometimes they were even so close that a 100mm lense was too much. However, changing lenses with al the sand blowing around was not a very good idea. Instead, I just enjoyed the sights and sounds at that point.
The Chinook was the first helicopter to arrive in the morning. After some exercises further away, the crew moved to the area where I was located. This meant they came very close, which resulted in very nice photo opportunities. After about 40 minutes the Chinook left for Gilze-rijen, returning later in the afternoon.
CH-47D Chinook “Corona3”
After the Chinook had left, BAT74 came onto the radio. This was an AH-64D Apache from Gilze-Rijen based 301 Squadron. The crew of this Apache showed their terrain-following capabilities to the fullest, sometimes flying at an altitude of just 2 meters.
On Thursday 30 March 2017 Twente Airport was officially opened as a civilian airport. During a ceremony the authority was officially transferred from the Dutch Ministry of Defence to the Province of Overijssel.
More than 250 guests attended the ceremonies surrounding this transfer of authority, one of them was Sharon Dijksma, secretary of Infrastructure and Environment. In her speech she referrred to the pioneering powers for which the Twente region is well known. “Twente Airport will be a regional airport with regional characteristics and a national innovative agenda”.
Twente Airport will focus on 3 aspects of aviation: business and small aviation, testing and the settling of aviation related companies. This was already shown earlier with several tests that were executed at Twente Airport (see The Runway is Wet and NLR Tests at Twente Airport) and after the opening the NLR also announced that it would start testing large scale drones at Twente Airport. The settling of companies has also started with AELS. AELS is a company that specializes in the dismantling of aircraft and selling the reclaimed parts. They will use Twente Airport as a location to dismantle wide-body aircraft, such as the Airbus 340 and Boeing 747. The dismantling of aircraft like this takes approximately 2 months per airframe.
After a round-table discussion the moment came for Colonel J.P. Apon to officially transfer the authority to respresentative Eddy van Hijum. During this transfer the Koninklijke Luchtmacht said goodbye in a fitting way, two F-16’s made a fly-by over the runway that they had used for many years.
Airport Director Meiltje de Groot was hopefull for the future and commented: “The last couple of months we already received several requests to land at Twente Airport. Now we are really open for business! We already have several aircraft booked for the coming months and for example, the NLR will use Twente Airport to test their X-calibur drone.”
Earlier on the day several aircraft had already landed at Twente Airport to take part in the official opening. A special visit was made by a CH-47D Chinook from the Koninklijke Luchtmacht, it gave a small performance show for the spectators that had gathered on the Spotters Hill.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight Foundation, in Dutch ‘Stichting Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht’ (SKHV), was first started in 1969 as an aero club (Stichting Vliegsport Gilze-Rijen) by a group of former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots. The commander of the Gilze-Rijen Air Base at that time supported the renovation of a small hangar in which a Harvard and a Piper Super Cub were restored. The initial aim of this aero club was to provide private pilots with the possibility of advanced flying training. In the following years several historical aircraft were added to the fleet after having been carefully restored to an airworthy condition. From 1976 onwards the club has dedicated itself to the restoration and the maintenance of propeller-driven aircraft formerly used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Navy.
In 1998 the Stichting Vliegsport Gilze-Rijen and the Dutch Spitfire Flight merged to form the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight (SKHV) thereby bringing the only airworthy Dutch Spitfire and a Beaver into the collection. On September 24th 2004, during the 35th anniversary, the merge of the Duke of Brabant Air Force (DBAF) and the SKHV was announced. Since then the DBAF flag-ship, the B-25 Mitchell, has been part of the SKHV fleet.
During the past few decades the SKHV has grown into a leading aircraft museum with a unique collection of airworthy historical military propeller-driven aircraft. The professional and enthusiastic contributions of the many volunteers and the co-operation with the RNLAF ((Royal Netherlands Air Force) is the sound basis of its existence.
The SKHV has contributed to the making of several feature films, such as A Bridge Too Far, Soldaat van Oranje, De Aanslag, the musical Joe and the film Zwartboek directed by Paul Verhoeven. Various SKHV aircraft and participants appear in these films. The SKHV is also a regular participant in air shows in the Netherlands and abroad.
The Spitfire and the Mitchell but also various other types of aircraft are shown.
The SKHV organises aviation events giving the spectators the opportunity to be introduced to historical aviation. An elucidation of aviation history, the sight of formation flights, and the smell and sound of droning engines often leaves behind an indelible impression, and a flight in one of the historical planes is invariably perceived as a unique experience.
Recently I had the opportunity to scan some of the slides that I took at Twenthe Airbase in the nineties and the beginning of the new Milennium. Looking at those pictures brings back nice memories, so why not share those pictures as well.
1996 Open House
The Open House usually brought many nice visitors to Twenthe and 1996 was no exception.
2003 Open House
The 2003 Open House was a great success, but it was also the last Open House for Twenthe Airbase. The day after the show, Defence Minister Kamp announced that Twenthe would be closed because of budget cuts.
Over the course of the years, Twenthe was visited by many aircraft. Some were spectacular and unique, some a bit less.
One of the things F-16 pilots had to practice was flying by night. This video shows some take-offs in the beginning of the evening, during the final months of Twenthe’s active period.