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The no 298 Squadron; Gilze-Rijen, June 15-20, 200

The Luchtmacht Open Dagen 2005, part 2; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The first squadron of the THG-KLu is the no 298 Squadron. This unit is stationed at Soesterberg Air Base. The no 298 Squadron is flying the Boeing CH-47D Chinook since 1996. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has 13 Chinook helicopters in operational service. The main task of the squadron is the heavy air transport task.

The no 298 Squadron was founded on March 1, 1950, as the no 6 Artillerie Verken- nings Afdeling (ARVA) (Artillery Reconnaissance Division) at Ypenburg Air Base. The no 298 Squadron was the first unit which was established as a part of the Light Aircraft Group (GPLV). The amount of personnel and the available accommodation was very limited after the founding. The unit operated with a number of Auster light recon- naissance aircraft. The no 298 Squadron moved soon to Soesterberg Air Base. Also Soesterberg was not for a long period the home base of the unit; they moved to Deelen Air Base in 1951. The Auster remained in service until 1953 within the no 298 Squadron. The aircraft was replaced by the Piper Cub in 1952. This aircraft was used for artillery reconnaissance and passenger transport. The Piper Cub remained in active service until 1968. In addition to the Piper Cub, the squadron was also equipped with the Hiller R23 Raven in 1955. This was the first helicopter in service at the Dutch Air Force. Two years later the squadron moved again to Ypenburg Air Base. The no 298 Squadron received its first Allouette II in 1959. This helicopter was in service to perform the SAR task. One of the new flights which were added to the no 298 Squadron was the SAR flight. The SAR flight would move to Leeuwarden Air Base and was later renumbered as the no 303 SAR Squadron. The no 298 Squadron moved back to Deelen Air Base, because Ypenburg Air Base was closed due to budget cuts. The Allouette II was replaced by the Allouette III in 1964. The no 298 Squadron moved for the last time in 1966 to Soesterberg Air Base. The unit switched completely to the Allouette III.

The Allouette III was after a period of more than 30 years of operational service replaced by the Boeing CH-47D Chinook in 1995. The Royal Netherlands Air Force decided to follow a new course in 1995. The helicopters will play a bigger role within the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The current Helicopter Group (GPH) is converted to

the new model. The name of this organization became Tactische Helikopter Groep Koninklijke Luchtmacht (THG-KLu). The no 298 Squadron received 13 Chinook helicopters in this new model. The first 7 helicopters were used helicopters which were purchased in Canada. These helicopters are modified to the CH-47D standard. The last 6 helicopters are newly built by Boeing. The no 298 Squadron received with the arrival of the Chinook the heavy transport duty within the THG-KLu. The core job of the no 298 Squadron is the transportation of the 11LMB (11 Airmobile Brigade), the Marine Corps (MARNS) and the Special Operations Forces (KCT). Another key task is the transportation of personnel and equipment, but also transportation of injured people and combat support. The unit can also support international humanitarian operations in crisis areas. The crew of the Chinook consists of 2 pilots. One of these pilots is also the commander of the helicopter. In the back are two load masters present who are responsible for the internal and external loads. They are also the eyes and ears of the pilots. The loadmasters will guide the pilot to the exact landing location in small spaces. The loadmasters will give instructions to the pilots of the Chinook who maneuver the helicopter in the right position to pick up a load.

The weather during the arrivals’ day was much better as it was the day before. The wind turned back to the west and therefore the runway in use was the runway 28. The large planes came in early. This is traditional, because they are parked at the end of the static line. The first aircraft which arrived was the KDC-10 from Eindhoven Air Base. Also the Fokker 50 arrived a few minutes later. The first fighters which arrived were quite early; 2 Swiss F-18 Hornetts entered the circuit. One of the highlights was planned at 10 am. It was the departure of the Egyptian Hercules. The position of the sun was really perfect on the aircraft at this moment of the day. Again the Airpower Demo was practiced by the helicopters of the THG-KLu. I was able to shoot a few fantastic photos. It became interesting after the demo practice. The holding area around the airbase was full with aircraft which were waiting for permission to land. The first aircraft which came in were 2 Tornado F3s of the RAF. These aircraft would also perform a demo during the airshow. A Swiss Cougar landed shortly after the Tornado arrival. Also this helicopter would perform a demo during the Open Dagen. The Cougar was followed by a group of German helicopters. The German formation consisted of an EC-135, 2 Bölkows, a CH-53 and 2 UH-1 Huey’s. Also a German Transall entered the landing. This aircraft was the support for the German helicopters.

After the landing of the Germans there was a period of silence. The silence would not last long, because within 15 minutes there was a landing of the AWACS. Also an Austrian Skyvan arrived at Gilze-Rijen. This aircraft was very special, because they will be replaced by the C-130 Hercules after this year. Also the 2 Austrian Drakens were interesting planes. This aircraft would be decommissioned at the end of this year. The Saab Draken will be replaced by the Eurofighter in Austria. The next hour was the hour of the British aircraft. The first 2 aircraft were 2 British Hawks which were soon followed by 2 British Harriers. The British Tornado F3 was waiting at the head of the runway in the meanwhile to perform its demo practice. The Austrian Draken practiced its demo as well shortly after the demo of the British Tornado. A Belgian A-109 appeared in front of the runway shortly after the demo practice of the Austrians. The helicopter was soon followed by a French Alpha-Jet. It was already late in the afternoon. The last participants which arrived today were 2 French Mirage 2000Ds from Nancy. It was quite cloudy during the arrival of the 2 French aircraft. The arrivals’ day of the Open Dagen at Gilze-Rijen was a great day. I cannot wait to go to the first airshow day tomorrow. I managed to get 6 film containers full with spectacular photos.

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