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De Luchtmacht Open Dagen 2007; Volkel, 14-16 juni 2007

The Annual Dutch Airshow; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The open house of the Royal Netherlands Air Force was again on the program in the period from June 14 until June 16, 2007. The open house was this year held at Volkel Airbase. The Air Force Organized a Spotters day during the arrival of the open house participants. This was done for the first time during an airshow.

The open house of the Dutch Air Force was this year scheduled on Friday, June 15 and Saturday, June 16, 2007. The Air Force organized a Spotters day during the arrivals for the airshow to minimize the amount of people watching the aircraft from outside the base. I had the opportunity to join this Spotters day. We had to report ourselves at 8 am at the gate on the southwestern side of the base. Once inside, I was sent to the press tribune. It was a long walk, but there was more than enough space for everyone at this location. At half past eight I was standing along the runway of Volkel. It was not the most ideal spot along the runway. Especially the distance to the runway was quite big because we were positioned on the south side of the parallel runway. I had to wait for about half an hour for the arrival of the first participants. The first aircraft appeared on the horizon at exactly 9 am. This was a KC-135 of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Corps (AFRC). The light on this large tanker was at this time of the day perfect. More aircraft followed soon. A bright red PC-21 of the Pilatus factory taxied along us to its parking spot. The next participant which arrived was a Tornado from JBG-32 from Lechfeld in Germany. The aircraft used its jet reverse system during its landing at Volkel. The landing direction of the runway was changed after the landing of the Belgian demo F-16. The planes were now landing from the other side. The first aircraft to arrive from the other side were two Spanish F-18s. These aircraft were quickly followed by a Portuguese F-16. The F-16 was completely painted in tone down colors. This was something I had never seen before on an F-16 from Portugal. There was a short moment of silence at Volkel after the landing of the Portuguese F-16.

A Gulfstream of the no 334 Squadron from Eindhoven appeared at the horizon after one hour of silence. This aircraft turned around halfway down the runway and taxied back. A Belgian Fouga Magister arrived directly after the Gulfstream had landed.

This aircraft is the last of its kind which is still operational. One of the highlights of the arrivals’ day was the departure of a Hungarian Antonov An-26. This aircraft came loose from the ground right in front of me. This action gave me one of the best photos of the day. An AWACS landed at Volkel in the meanwhile. A Polish An-26 landed right after the AWACS. This aircraft was an extraordinary aircraft for me. It was the first time that I saw a Polish An-26. This aircraft will disappear from the Polish Air Force; the aircraft will be replaced by the C-130 Hercules. I was very glad that I could capture this aircraft. The Polish An-26 was bringing materials for the Su-22 from Poland. This aircraft landed 10 minutes after the An-26 had landed. The Su-22 landed with its charac- teristic parachute behind the aircraft. Almost all aircraft from the Eastern Bloc will land with a parachute behind the aircraft. It's always nice to have a Su-22 Fitter on photo. It is not common to capture a plane like this one. Furthermore, Poland is one of the last countries in Europe where this type is still operational. Two Super Etendards appeared on the horizon after the landing of the Su-22. Also the Super Etendard is at its end of its operational life within the French Navy. The arrivals day at Volkel ended with the arrival of two A-10 Thunderbolts. These tank busters are a nice appearance.

At the first day of the open house I decided to stand further to the end of the main runway of the airbase. There was a taxi track between the runway and the parallel runway which was going to be used heavily today. I was not the only person with that thought, because soon I saw many familiar faces. At this location I was able to shoot the taxiing aircraft from the front side when they taxied towards the parallel runway. The first aircraft which used this taxi track was the Spitfire of the Gilze-Rijen Historical Flight. I made a few close up photos of this aircraft. It promised to be a great day, because there were many other planes which taxied from the main runway to the parallel runway at this spot. Also the Allouette III would land continuously at this spot to drop off VIP guests for the airshow. I stood next to the VIP lounge where all the special guests of the open house were gathered. There were multiple Allouette III helicopters in the circuit. The Dutch demo F-16 took off after the departure of one of the Allouettes.

The highlight of this airshow was claimed by the Swiss Air Force. The Swiss showed a formation of nine PC-7's during their take-off. This formation was accompanied by a Swiss F-18 Hornet. The PC-7s had a bright orange color which makes them easy to see in the air. The PC-7 and F-18 made several circuits along the audience before the spectacular part of the show began. The PC-7s came in promptly and the F-18 pilot showed what this aircraft can do. The pilot made a number of nearly impossible maneuvers. The PC-7s which had landed in the meanwhile used the taxi track in front of me. The bright orange aircraft lined up on the runway. This gave me a few spectacular photos of an aircraft which I had never photographed before. I made also a few spectacular shots of the Hornett. The aircraft produced long condensation traces at the leading edge of the wings. Also the F-18 used the famous taxi track. The aircraft had its air brake still open when it entered the taxi track. I was able to shoot some beautiful shots of this aircraft on the taxi track. The Dutch Hawker Hunter turned in front of me to the runway for his demo after the landing of the F-18. This old machine was made airworthy again. The second day at Volkel was a repeat of the first day. Today the Airpower demo provided some nice pictures. The departing F-16s were all hanging relatively low after their take-off. The special paint F-16 of the no 312 Squadron flew also during this demo. I decided to go home after the Airpower demo on the second day. The open house of the Air Force was nothing new this year, but I had some fun and therefore it was again a good airshow. A nice contribution was the Spotters day during the arrivals.

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