Back
Runway 28 Runway 28 Runway 28 Runway 28

Gilze-Rijen, Home of the Redskins; Gilze-Rijen March 23, 2010

The Apache's of no 301 Squadron; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

I went to Gilze-Rijen on Tuesday, March 23 with the information that four French Alpha Jets were on the base. Next to these French Alpha-Jets I also saw lots of activity on the Redskin platform. This is a nice moment to get a closer look on the Redskins of no 301 squadron of the Dutch Air Force.

The history of no 301 squadron starts at Eindhoven airbase where the unit is noticed as no 314 Squadron. The no 314 squadron was formed in May 1952 led by Captain P. Baker. The badge of the unit consisted of a red circle in which a yellow centaur is depicted. The squadron motto is written in Latin and reads: Per Sapientam Efficiens Et Immortalis, which means immortal and effectively by wisdom. The famous totem pole was introduced as a squadron mascot. After a while the unit received its nickname "The Redskins". The unit was equipped with the Republic F-84 Thunderjet in the very beginning. They decided in 1956 to switch to the Republic F-84F Thundertreak. This machine is still present as a gate guard at the main entrance of Gilze-Rijen airbase. The Northrop NF-5 was introduced in the Air Force in 1970 and the Redskins were equipped with this aircraft at Eindhoven airbase. The unit flew more than twenty years with the NF-5 before the aircraft was replaced by the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon in 1991. The unit moved from Eindhoven airbase to the nearby Gilze-Rijen airbase in 1987. The unit was disbanded in 1995 as part of cutbacks in the defense budget. The F-16 was not longer based at Gilze-Rijen.

It seemed that the history of the Redskins would end with the disbandment of no 314 squadron, but this was not true. Gilze-Rijen airbase was together with Soesterberg airbase assigned to be the new home base of the Dutch helicopter fleet. The Bo-105 Bolkow and the Allouette III came over from Deelen which was closed. The Air Force also decided to buy the newest AH-64D Apache and twelve AH-64A Apache helicopters were borrowed from the United States Army. These helicopters were borrowed until the thirty new AH-64D Apache's for the Dutch Air Force were delivered. The new Apache's are equipped with the Longbow system, but the radomes which are quite expensive are not present on the helicopters. Eight of the new helicopters will stay at Fort Hood in the United States to train the new crews for this type of

helicopter. The remaining helicopters will operate with Gilze-Rijen as their home base. A new unit was founded for these helicopters. The name of this unit is no 301 squadron. This unit took on all the traditions and badges of the former no 314 Squadron. Nowadays many people are still talking about the old Redskins; they are talking about the no 314 squadron.

The AH-64D Apache is nowadays one of the most advanced attack helicopters. The helicopter is equipped with advanced monitoring equipment and weapon systems. The Apache is used for: reconnaissance, protection of land troops, protection of transport helicopters and assistance in emergency situations. The Apache also support the Ministry of Justice. These missions include the support of police forces in finding missing persons and chasing criminals. The no 301 squadron is also one of the most deployed units of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. No 301 squadron was deployed to Bosnia Herzegovina, Djibouti, Iraq and Afghanistan since their founding. The main task of the unit is to protect the transport helicopters like the Cougar and Chinook.

I arrived at nine am at Gilze-Rijen because the French Alpha-Jets were scheduled to leave early. The ground crew of the base was busy sweeping the runway when I arrived. More people were gathered in the meanwhile to see the departure of the French Alpha Jets. The French Alpha-Jets were on a navigation trip through Europe and they stayed at Gilze-Rijen for the night. There were four Alpha-Jets present and they were parked at the no 300 squadron platform. The first French Alpha-Jet appeared on the taxi track at half past nine am. The weather was still cloudy, but this was about to change. I was hoping the sun would come through as quickly as possible. The light in the morning hours at Gilze-Rijen is really perfect. The Sun is exactly in your back especially for the outgoing traffic. The first three Alpha Jets left under a cloudy sky. And of course the sun broke through when all the French planes were gone. But despite of this I managed to get some decent shots of those three Alpha-Jets. The ground crew placed five Apache's on the 301 squadron platform in the meanwhile. This was a beautiful sight under the nice sun which was shining now. The fourth Alpha-Jet appeared on the taxi track thirty minutes after the departure of the first three Alpha-Jets. The Alpha-Jet was really beautiful in the bright sunlight. I was lucky that the Alpha-Jet came very close to the fence which improved the quality of the photos drastically.

Four Apache's started their engines during the departure of the last Alpha-Jet. The Apache's would soon taxi along the fence, because the taxi track which is called Kilo has been closed due to construction work. The only taxi track which can be used by the Apache's is called Lima and is located next to the fence of the base. The helicopters will move towards us instead of away from us. This will bring us some beautiful images the next few months. The environment and the angle at which you can shoot these helicopters are very ideal. I stood on the north side of the runway so the Apache's I was able to take pictures of were the Apache's on the taxi track. The helicopters started to hover above the taxi track just before they entered the main runway. It was a very nice effect with the sun from the right angle on these helicopters. The four Apache's hovered a few minutes above the runway and they left the base in groups of two. It became quiet at the base when all these helicopters were gone. The other two units were not present at Gilze-Rijen, because they were on exercise at the English Carlisle. There were no Cougars and no Chinooks seen today. I decided to go home after a very successful start of the day. I had a full camera card after the departure of the Alpha-Jets and the Apache's and they could be added to my photo collection at home.




Contact Facebook Youtube Airfighters Google+ Google Maps About Runway 28 Blurb
© Copyright 2000-2017 AAM van Noye, All Rights Reserved