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Last operational F-104

By Frits Jongerman | October 2004
Bye bye to the last Staf.

As a former F-104 Starfighter Air Base and to emphasize the good relationship with the local communities, the Kleine Brogel 10th Tactical Wing is planing to place a F-104G on a roundabout between Peer and Kleine Brogel Air Base. Prior to the official ceremony which will take place in mid November, the 10th Tactical Wing organized an informal Starfighter pilots gathering at Kleine Brogel on Wednesday October 27th. The programme included 2 Italian F-104S-ASA-M Starfighters from 9 Stormo/10 Gruppo F-104S ASA-M based at Grazzanise, Italy.

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At 12:00 we were welcome at Kleine Brogel Air Base. After paying entrance we were brought to the ramp/taxi track. Unfortunately the weather wasn't getting any better, the sun disappeared and high clouds appeared.

The ETA of the Italian F-104's was delayed with one hour; new ETA was 15:30 local. There were problems with one of the two F-104S's in Italy and the rule is; if one can't come, the other won't show up either. They usually fly abroad with at least two planes.

During the first launch of (31 Sm) F-16AM/BM's all the people were moved a couple of hundred meters because safety reasons. After this move the FX-94 was officially presented. This happened with a lot of water by the fire brigade and some of us were very wet! What about the camera's? After this presentation, F-16AM FA-114 flew a very impressive demo. The pilot did two very low passed with full afterburner over the crowd. After the demo the Viper pilot parked his Viper at the ramp.

Around three o'clock wing-ops mentioned to the F-16's that just went airborne that the F-104's did took off from their home base and everything was going as planned. Just before half past three, 2 F-16's and one F-104 did a fly by. The red one! So it flew this mission alone! Better one F-104 than nothing.

After a couple of fly by's and one touch and go the F-104 landed. Not much of the landing was seen. During taxiing the organisation played the song 'Time to say goodbye' performed by Sarah Brightman & Andrea Bocelli. A moment not to forget. The Italian pilot parked his baby next to the Belgian F-104G (FX-94) that will be placed at the roundabout. The F-104S-ASA-M MM6930 '999' is painted Ducati-red and has a white tail with a large black horse in it. On October 28th it will fly back and Sunday October 31st it will be over!

The Italian Viper pilot enjoyed the presence of all the spotters and old F-104 Belgian Air Force pilots. He showed his beautiful helmet and even kissed his aircraft. We also enjoyed this day, and I like to thank the people at Kleine Brogel for making it all possible.

The end of a very nice aircraft. Another type bites the dust.

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