20, 21 June Gilze-Rijen Air Base hosted this year’s Royal Air Force Days. This year’s theme was operation air support and showed the capabilities of today’s Air Force. 245.000 visitors saw modern equipment, but there was also time to look back, for instance to celebrate 50 years of Alouette III service in the RNLAF.
Due to the French and Danish air shows being in the same weekend, of the know demo team, only the Red Arrows were present. Fortunately this was compensated by the excellent demos of the Belgian F-16, Slovakian MiG-29 and Greek F-16.
The static was traditionally located of the old runway. A nice variety of visitors with some firsts. The Belgians brought their brand new NH90. The Portuguese C-295 was a first. Polish Air Arms were present with a MiG-29, C-295 support and a PZL SW-4 Puszczyk helicopter. Blackshape showed their Prima ultralight trainer aircraft in Italian Air Force colors.
I-X010, Blackshape Prime
133-MO/613, Mirage 2000
ZA137/20, Sea King
Air Power Demo
Another tradition on the Air Force Days is the Air Power Demo. This 60 minutes demo show the readiness of the Dutch air force. A simulated airfield attack by F-16s and Apaches is followed by the apprehension of a wanted terrorist leader, using all the Defense Helicopter Command has to offer. Meanwhile the airfield was secured by “Luchtmobiel” soldiers from a C-130.
A first this year was the presence of the new CH-47F in the airpower demo.
Dreamliner / MD-11
Another first was the flyby of the first Dreamliner on Dutch soil. The 787 was delivered to Arke, just two week before. The aircraft was intercepted in a simulated QRA intercept by two scrambled F-16s. The flyby was a first for the general public.
This year KLM is facing out the MD-11. To celebrate this fact and give terminally ill kids a change to fly, the MD-11 visited Gilze-Rijen and landed during the show. The aircraft parked on the far end of the old runway. After the show the MD-11 departed with the children for a tour over the Netherlands.
Read on in our next part, covering the Airshow, Red Arrows, Solo display teams and the spectacular AH-64 demo.