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The Florennes Airshow 2012, part 1; Florennes, June 22 – 25, 2012

Spotter Day during the Arrivals; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

This year the Belgian airbase Florennes will celebrate its 70th anniversary. The Belgian Air Force decided to organize a big airshow to celebrate this anniversary. The airshow was held on June 23 and 24, 2012. I was present during the spotter days during the arrivals day and the departures day on June 22 and 25, 2012.

The first spotter day took place on Friday, June 22. The organization of the no 2 Tactical Wing at Florennes had 1,200 seats available for photographers. Most of the airshow arrivals would occur today. A photo contest was organized to gather the best photos which were made during the event. The competition was divided into 3 cate- gories, namely; best action photos, best static photos and best airshow atmosphere photos. Each photographer was allowed to send one photo for each category of the photo contest. For the spotter day we had to report ourselves to the north gate of Florennes Air Base. We were able to park the car in the old abandoned shelter camp at the north side of the base. There was a short line at the desk next to the entrance. After a check at the entrance I was able to enter the base. We were driven by bus to the photographer’s area which was located close to the runway. When I arrived, it was already pretty busy in this area. The photographer’s area was relatively small for 1,200 men who all want to stand in the front row. Luckily I was able to find a nice spot at the back of the designated area. We were very close to the runway. The weather today was not bad at all. Clouds and sunny periods was today’s situation. This was given the forecast not bad at all. The day started with the arrivals of some Belgian Marchetti's. The Marchetti's were of the display team The Red Devils of the Belgian Air Force. These aircraft immediately practiced their demo when they entered the circuit. The Red Devils landed one by one after their demo practice.

A Greek F-16D taxied to the head of the runway during the demo exercise of the Belgian Red Devils. This aircraft would also practice its demo at this moment. There were many F-16 demos planned at the airshow of Florennes. The Greek demo was only 1 of the 4 F-16 demos. The Greek F-16 climbed steep after it was airborne; it was already quite high when the aircraft passed us. Our location was straight underneath the demo line of the airshow. This meant the aircraft flew straight over our heads

during the demo. The public area during the airshow days would be positioned on the parallel runway next to the TLP platform. The PC-9s of the Croatian Wings of Storm demo team took off for an exercise as well. Two Danish F-16s went into the break to land at Florennes. The first F-16 was the aircraft with the red tail; the second aircraft was a dual F-16. All aircraft which had landed taxied back to the head of the runway via the northern taxi track. The aircraft crossed the runway on the opposite side of the spotter area where I stood. We were able to capture a few nice taxi shots because of that. The German Tornado IDS passed us during its landing with its nose still up. The German OV-10 Bronco stood still already at this same point. Three Belgian A-109s flew along the public before they were parked across the runway after the landing of the Germans. The helicopters went briefly into a hover with the nose towards the audience. The Dutch Chinook came straight in at the TLP platform for a spot on the static line. Also the two Dutch F-16s came straight in just like the Hunter. The two MiG-29s from Slovakia arrived more than one hour after the arrival of the Slovak Let-410. These aircraft both used a parachute which was very nice on photo.

The afternoon started with the landing of two Swiss F-18s. Both aircraft made an overshoot along the public before they landed. The Norwegian F-16s arrived shortly after the 2 Swiss F-18s. Both aircraft had a tail with Tiger Meet paintings. The first aircraft was a dual F-16 which I already saw before. The second Tiger F-16 was a new aircraft which I had not seen before. The scout of the French display team Patrouille de France came in after the Norwegian F-16s. The aircraft was soon followed by an Alpha-Jet from the French airbase Tours. The two Austrian PC-7s arrived shortly after the Alpha-Jets. One of the PC-7s was the familiar green snake aircraft. The 2 Belgian Falcon 20 aircraft appeared on the horizon. Both planes went into the break above the airfield. The French C-160 Transall flew as support plane for the PDF; the aircraft landed shortly after the Falcons 20s. The AWACS of the NATO blocked the runway after the aircraft had landed. The taxi tracks at Florennes are too small for this aircraft to taxi to the platform. It was therefore towed to its static location. Another 3 Belgian Air Force A-109s arrived in the meanwhile. The Swiss Beach 1900 arrived at Florennes when the runway was free again; the aircraft was the support plane for the Swiss PC-7 team. The EC120 which landed in the meanwhile was from the basic helicopter training school from Dax the southern part of France.

The Belgian Sea-King flew through the audience when the helicopter came in. A tent was almost blown away by the wind of the rotor blades. This caused a little panic situation, but soon everything was under control again. The PC-7 of the Austrian Air Force was about to start its demo. Unfortunately it was very dark when the small plane took off. The Hunter from the Netherlands exercised its demo too. The Hunter needed a very long part of the runway before it went airborne. The MiG-29 was ready to start its demo practice as well after the Hunter demo. This demo was one of my highlights of the day. The aircraft past me with a lot of black smoke and it took off with much noise. The demo lasted about 10 minutes. It was one of the most spectacular demos that I had seen today. My second highlight was ready for its demo at the head of the runway right after the MiG demo. This demo was flow by the 2 Polish Su-22 Fitters. The aircraft made a formation take-off which yielded in very nice photos. The demo itself was nothing special, but that did not matter to me; the fact that the Fitters flew was enough for me. Both aircraft used the characteristic parachutes during the landing. The last demo I saw was that of the Dutch F-16 demo team. During the demo of the PDF I decided to go home. All interesting planes were arrived already. The arrivals day was a success; I had a few special aircraft on photo on a nice location at the airbase.

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