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Back to the Modern Existence; Gilze-Rijen, June 20 & 21, 2010

A Century of Dutch Aviation III; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

After the Open House at Gilze-Rijen air base, I would visit the departures of this annual event. Gilze-Rijen is known for its excellent photography opportunities and I had a big advantage of this fact. The normal life with the daily helicopter operations will continue at this DHC base after the Open House.

The Open House of the Royal Netherlands Air Force gives the Dutch citizens the opportunity to look at the tasks of the Dutch defense department and its associated equipment. Besides this, the Open House is used to recruit new people for a job at the Dutch Air Force. As part of defense cutbacks, the Open House will be reduced to two events instead of three in a time window of three years. The same applies to the Open House of the Royal Netherlands Army and Royal Netherlands Navy. The air show is as always the highlight of the Open House. The Netherlands Air Force and also other air forces will show their aircraft and helicopters to the general public so they can see what the air force is doing when they are on a peace keeping mission. All demos are based on standard maneuvers which are daily used in operational theatres. The Air Force shows during the Open House what they did in the past, what they do nowadays and what they are going to do in the future. The commitment and willingness of the employees of this organization are very important during the actual contribution at deployment of the Dutch Air Force.

The threat from Eastern Europe disappeared with the fall of the Berlin Wall at the end of the eighties. The Royal Netherlands Air Force had to change its course because the East was no longer an enemy. The focus moved on providing air support in international conflicts. The Royal Netherlands Air Force has provided air support repeatedly in the past to international conflicts. This task became more important in the early nineties. The Royal Netherlands Air Force delivers an active contribution to various crisis management operations since 1991. These operations are largely conducted in cooperation with other armed forces within the NATO or the UN. Besides ensuring peace and security, the air force is also involved in humanitarian operations. This includes direct assistance to people who are affected by a disaster or in war scenarios. This relief provides the air force an important contribution to the stability in

various regions worldwide. The air force also has apart from its international duties, also an extensive national task. The Air Force proposes a number of resources around the clock. They are seven days a week available for various national tasks. One of the main tasks of the air force is the SAR. Rescue Helicopters are continuously standby to rescue people in difficult situations at sea or to provide patient transport from the Frisian Islands to hospitals on the mainland. Furthermore, transport helicopters are being used for fire fighting in the forest and heath areas and for the transportation of people in emergency situations. The attack helicopters provide support to police operations during a search for criminals who are hiding for the police. Fighters are always standby to protect the national airspace against intruders. The Coast Guard will patrol with aircraft to observe the Dutch coastline.

During the Open House on Saturday, I heard from a few photographers that the air base will be opened at Sunday between noon and 4 PM for a number of departing aircraft. I went therefore to the head of the main runway at Gilze-Rijen at noon. The first two planes were already warming up when I arrived. The two Spanish Hornets were the first aircraft who left the air base. Both aircraft were parked side by side on the runway and after a few minutes they both left in the direction of Spain. In the meanwhile there were many more planes active on the platform. More than twenty aircraft would leave Gilze-Rijen within a window of two hours; this was including some transport aircraft. Shortly after the Spanish Hornets, two Danish F-16’s appeared at the taxi track. The new roller which was built shortly before the Open House brought the photographers a new beneficial spot for taking photos. It is now possible to photograph taxiing aircraft from different angles. The weather today was very cloudy, but despite this I managed to collect some excellent results thanks to the new taxi track. The next aircraft that departed were the Slovakian Air Force L-39’s and the Czech Air force Grippens. The highlight today for me was the departure of the RAF VC-10. I cannot remember that this aircraft has ever been on Gilze-Rijen before. This huge airplane taxied over the runway towards us. It was the best series of pictures today when the VC-10 departed to its home base in Brize-Norton UK. Shortly behind the VC-10 the Slovakian Let-410, the American C-21 and Czech An-26 left Gilze-Rijen.

Also on Monday there were plenty of movements on the air base. Today, a big amount of aircraft would return home and the Open House at Gilze-Rijen this year was over. The day started well, because the Norwegians with their F-16’s had left early just like the Hungarian Grippens. Both Hungarian Grippens taxied behind each other over the new taxi track towards the runway. This brought me excellent photos with the sun in the east. After the departure of these aircraft the larger aircraft would leave. First the AWACS appeared at the head of the runway. The machine took off with a lot of noise from the old engines. The New Dutch Hercules went airbourne immediately behind the AWACS. My highlight of the entire Open House departed at noon, the aircraft involved was the Polish Su-22 Fitter. This aircraft can nowadays be considered as an exotic aircraft. It was a pleasant sight when the Fitter appeared on the new taxi track. I was very lucky because the clouds moved aside when the aircraft came within the maximum range of my lens. This Polish two-seater took off after I had made some great pictures of it. Somewhat later in the afternoon my other highlight of the Open House departed. Again it was a Polish aircraft. A Polish MiG-29UB appeared at the head of the main runway. The MiG-29 turned on the runway with behind the aircraft the typical black smoke. This gave me some great pictures of this particular aircraft. The departure of the Polish MiG was the last movement which I would attend of the Open House. The Open House at Gilze-Rijen air base was over for me. In a total of five days I was able to catch a nice set of beautiful aircraft and we all celebrated a century of Dutch aviation.

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