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.
On the 26th of May the first former RNLAF AB.412SP destined for the Peruvian Navy was delivered from Liège to Gilze-Rijen Airbase in the Netherlands.
After 303 Squadron at Leeuwarden was de-activated in January because of budgetcuts, the 3 AB.412s were flown to the Agusta-Westland facility at Liège Airport. Over there the helicopters were completely refurbished and painted in the colours of the Peruvian Navy.
On the 26th of May 2015 the former R-03 was the first of the 3 helicopters that was flown to Gilze-Rijen. The helicopter had a sticker with the old serial on the door. This was due to Dutch legislation, as the helicopter was formally still part of the RNLAF; it had not been handed over to Peru yet.
Once all 3 AB.412s have arrived and have been tested, they will then be prepared for shipment to Peru. At this stage it is not know whether this will be done by sea or by air.