All posts by niekvand

Fire Bucket Operations in Hengelo

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s get dirty

After I visited the GLV-V low flying area in 2017 (see http://niekvanderzande.nl/wordpress/helicopter-action-in-glv-v/), I decided it was time to eat some dirt again. Therefore Ramon Wenink and I headed south last week to try our luck in this unique environment.

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.

Brown Out sequence

Extracting the forces

 

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Es donnert auf der Heide

On the 9th of June 2018 the German Ministry of Defense hosted the Tag der Bundeswehr, during which 15 military bases across the country opened the gates for the general public. One of these bases was the Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Waffen und Munition 91 (WTD91) in Meppen.

WTD91 in Meppen is a unique location, as it actually is a unit with both military and civillian staff where new weapons and munition are tested. For these purposes, the unit can use a 19200 hectare instrumented shooting range, which measures approximately 31 by 7 kilometers.

Meppen Range (EDR34) in Northern Germany, as shown on aviation charts

Weapons, weaponssystems, guided missiles, drones and armour are tested in Meppen for the German army, navy and  airforce. WTD91 boasts a unique professional experience in the disciplines of balistics, acoustics, optronics and meteorology when it comes to military equipment.

The Tiger attack helicopter on the ground before the display

During the Tag der Bundeswehr, the visitors were welcomed onto the general area of WTD91 where they could see the equipment of the German army up close, from the Fennek reconaissance vehicle up to the immense PzH2000 howitzer. On the other side of the street, the WTD village was showing the various WTD units from accross the country. These units showed various military innovations that they are currently working on, from 3D printing and robotics via temporary camouflage paint onto an electronic quad from the Trier based WTD41.

Bundeswehrfeuerwehr

A few meters further the highlight of the day was reached, this was were the dynamic weapons display took place 3 times per day for 45 minutes. This weapons display was not only dynamic by the fact that the various military vehicles moved in front of the public, next to that live shots were fired to show the visitors the power and precision of the weapons.

The display started exactly on the hour with a first missile being fired from the LARS rocketlauncher. This first missile was fired to determine if it reached the right target area, situated 12 kilometers further. Once this was confirmed, a salvo of 15 rockets was fired. At this point it became quite clear why visitors had to wear ear protection and why children under the age of 14 years were not allowed at the dynamic weapons display.

The LARS missile system is no longer in use with the Bundeswehr, but WTD 91 still had plenty of rockets in stock to be fired.
LARS firing sequence

Next up was the Dingo armoured transport vehicle, shooting the remote fired MG5 machinegun at several balloons, destroying them all. When the Dingo drove off, the next weapons system was already prepared for action in the form of the MG6 machinegun. This machinegun has 6 barrels and can fire 6000 shots per minute. By using this massive firepower, an array of 400 clay pigeons was cleared in no time.

Then the heavy, tracked vehicles showed up on the range. First to display its firepower was the Puma Schützenpanzer which can transport 6 armed soldiers onto the battlefield. The Puma is equipped with a 30mm machine cannon, with which it destroyed the water barrels that simulated targets on the range. The puma was then followed by the Leopard 2. This main battle tank was staffed by a mixed German/Dutch crew. First it fired the 120mm canon whilst standing still, the next shot was fired whilst driving at full speed. The Leopard was then followed by the PzH2000 howitzer firing the mighty 155mm canon at a target 12km away.

Puma in action
Leopard 2
PzH2000

Then, during a short parade of the ENOK, EAGLE IV and Boxer, a display was given how troops would be inserted and extracted from the battlefield.

After the ground-based displays, all eyes were focused onto the sky, as it was time for the aerial display of WTD61s Tiger attack helicopter. An array of impressive manouevres was shown directly in front of the guests, so that they could get an impression on the versatility of this helicopter.

When the Tiger display was over, it was announced that Meppen could see some aerial visitors as well. First up was a C-160D Transall from LTG63 in Hohn. This Transall flew along all Tag der Bundeswehr bases in northern Germany and treated the audience to a Sarajevo approach. The final visitor of the day was the Transall’s successor, an Airbus A.400M from LTG62 in Wunstorf, that flew accross the entire country to visit Tag der Bundeswehr events during which it was in the air for more than 6 hours.

 

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A Heavy month for Twente Airport

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.

Airbus 340 F-GLZI after shutting down the engines for the final time.

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
  • Component Management

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.

HB-JMK with AELS in April 2017

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.

F-GLZI

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.

F-GLZR

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.

PH-BFF

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….

Sources: Wikipedia, www.aels.nl
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Last flight of F-GLZI

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.

Airbus 340 F-GLZI after shutting down the engines for the final time.

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 last flight of F-GLZI

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.

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Night photography

Night photography is one of the more difficult things to do. The primary reason is the lack of light, something essential to photography. In order to get decent pictures you need a lot of practice, patience and a tripod will come in handy as well.

Modern DSLR cameras can easily go up to ISO One Zillion without loss of quality, but back in the old days, when you used slide film, a very long shutter time was needed and then still it was a big guess on what the result would be.

As said, modern cameras make it a lot easier, but you still have to know what you are doing. Next to that, quite some correction is required afterwards, as artificial lights have a nasty yellow glance.

This article shows various nightshots throughout the years.

Oldskool: Slides

A Venezuelan Hercules on the platform of Twenthe Airbase
A Venezuelan Hercules on the platform of Twenthe Airbase
An An-12 from Balkan Bulgarian Airways on the platform of Twenthe
A Balkan Bulgarian Airways Antonov 12 at Twenthe
A Belgian Hercules at Twenthe Airbase
A Belgian Hercules at Twenthe Airbase

Digital: Funfair in Hengelo

Emergency Services at Night

A large fire in Enschede
A large fire in Enschede
Firemen in action at a large fire in Hengelo
Firemen in action at a large fire in Hengelo

Aircraft at night

A Swiss Challenger 300 on the platform of Le Bourget
A Swiss Challenger 300 on the platform of Le Bourget
A brand new Embraer ERJ-145AEW amde a stop at Le Bourget during the delivery flight to India
A brand new Embraer ERJ-145AEW made a stop at Le Bourget during the delivery flight to India
The Ecuadorian presidential aircraft was parked at Le Bourget during a visit to Paris
The Ecuadorian presidential aircraft was parked at Le Bourget during a visit to Paris
A Global Express from the German Air Force awaits a VIP at Le Bourget Airport
A Global Express from the German Air Force awaits a VIP at Le Bourget Airport
A United States Air Force C-40 VIP transport at Le Bourget
A United States Air Force C-40 VIP transport at Le Bourget
The Mirage gate guard of Payerne airbase in Switzerland
The Mirage gate guard of Payerne airbase in Switzerland
The Christoph Europa 2 helicopter at the Medisch Spectrum Twente in Enschede
The Christoph Europa 2 helicopter at the Medisch Spectrum Twente in Enschede
The view on this Egyptian Hercules at Le Bourget was unfortunately obstructed by fences.
The view on this Egyptian Hercules at Le Bourget was unfortunately obstructed by fences.
When you take pictures at night, some lights can be rather annoying, as was the case with this Malaysian Global Express
When you take pictures at night, some lights can be rather annoying, as was the case with this Malaysian Global Express
The picture of this Thai Air Force Boeing 737 was also rather tricky due to the large spotlight
The picture of this Thai Air Force Boeing 737 was also rather tricky due to the large spotlight
A US based Gulfstream from the USAF on the tarmac of Le Bourget
A US based Gulfstream from the USAF on the tarmac of Le Bourget
A rare visitor to Le Bourget was this US Marine Corps C-9
A rare visitor to Le Bourget was this US Marine Corps C-9
Egyptian Hercules are frequent visitors to Le Bourget and therefore this nice picture could be taken
Egyptian Hercules are frequent visitors to Le Bourget and therefore this nice picture could be taken
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Dutch Historic Jet Association’s Fouga

During the Keep them Rolling anniversary event at Twente Airport one strange visitor arrived, that did not really fit in with the event. It was the Fouga Magister of the Dutch Historic Jet Association (DHJA), what did it do here?

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.

Dressing in Style. Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk prepare for the flight back to Lelystad.
Dressing in Style. Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk prepare for the flight back to Lelystad Airport.

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.

Memories from a long gone time
Memories from a long gone time, the NF-5 has been phased out, 315 Squadron has been disbanded and Twenthe Airbase is now Twente Airport.

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.

DHJAs Fouga Magister F-GLHF on the tarmac of Twente Airport
DHJAs Fouga Magister F-GLHF on the tarmac of Twente Airport

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.

Fons and Gerhard during the pre-flight check (walkaround) prior to startup
Fons and Gerhard during the pre-flight check (walkaround) prior to startup

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.

Preparing for startup
Preparing for startup

Acknowledgements: I want to thank Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk for their time and the really nice conversations and explanation.

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Keep Them Rolling (and Flying)

During the weekend of 9 September 2017, the Keep Them Rolling association celebrated its 45th Anniversary in the region of Twente. During this weekend a WW2 Airfield was set up at Twente Airport.

Keep Them Rolling (KTR) is a Dutch association that has the objective to preserve and maintain Military vehicles that were built or used during the 2nd World War, more in particular maintaining the historical aspects and background associated with these vehicules as well as preserving and maintaining memories of events during the 2nd World War for future generations.

In order to do this, they have the following activities:

Preserve military vehicles, cars, trucks (softskinned or armoured), boats and planes.

Organise meetings and publish a Club Magazine.

Establish and upkeep contacts with Dutch and foreign associations with the same interests.

Spreading of Newsletters about the activities being held by the members of the association.

Help organise tours and processions or static shows in order to show to the general public the preserved material.

Give support to events organised by foreign associations.

Obtain facilities which might be usefull to the members.

Guide and be helpfull with renovations and work on objects restored.

Do all things possible which can be usefull to the association

(Source: www.ktr.nl)

Because KTR celebrated the 45th Anniversary, a special event was organized. Already 2 years ago, the organisation spoke to the owners of Twente Airport to see if there were possibilities to establish a fully operational WW2 Airfield. The airport management was enthusiastic from the start and soon the first plans were drafted. With the involvement of the Vliegclub Twente a location to create the Airfield was soon found.

During the course of 2017 the invitations were sent to the various aircraft operators and many of them agreed to participate in the event. Amongst others, DDA Classic Airlines would come an perform sightseeing flights during the weekend. Initially the Catalina PH-PBY would come as well, but unfortunately she had a landing accident some weeks before, which prevented participation.

When the 9th of September arrived, Twente woke up to a grey sky with low clouds and lots of rain. This is not the ideal scenario to fly historical aircraft and soon news came through that several participants had to cancel due to this weather. However, towards the end of the morning the meteorological conditions improved and soon the first participants, in the form of two KLu Historical Flight Harvards appeared over Twente’s runway. The aircraft were carefully marshalled onto the airfield and then pushed into the shelter area, where guests could see them up close.

Not much later the Dakota arrived from Schiphol airport, after which various sightseeing flights took place in the afternoon. Finally P-51D Mustang “Trusty Rusty” of the Early Birds Foundation arrived from Lelystad.

Throughout the day, various convoys with Keep Them Rolling vehicles visited Twente Airport, where the visitors could enjoy the whole airfield scenery, listen to live music from marching bands and singers, or just enjoy the sunshine and catch up with fellow enthusiasts. By the end of the ofternoon it was time to say goodbye, but to quote Dame Vera Lynn, maybe “We’ll meet again”?

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Helicopter action in GLV-V

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 Oirschotse Heide is used by both the army and the airforce
The Oirschotse Heide is used by both the army and the airforce

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.

The loadmaster of a Chinook is on the lookout during a landing at the Oirschotse Heide

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 crew of BAT74 during a low level hover
The crew of BAT74 during a low level hover

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”

Corona3 hitting the deck during a flight in GLV-V

The sandy environment of the Oirschotse Heide gives pilots a realistic training opportunity for missions in Mali etc.

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.

AH-64D Apache “Bat74”

Bat74 up close and personal
The Oirschotse Heide can be used to practice useful skills, such as hiding between the trees
Kicking up some dust on the sandy areas

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