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The Florennes Airshow 2012, part 2; Florennes, June 22 – 25, 2012

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

The spotter day during the departures was on the program on Monday June 25, 2012, after the airshow which took place during the weekend. I was also present at this spotter day during the departures of the airshow participants. These departures promised to be a true spectacle with the necessary action photos.

During the departures on Monday, June 25, 2012, we were located on the same location as last Friday. The weather looked a lot worse than last Friday. It was gray and it would stay the whole morning like that. At the beginning of the afternoon there was room for the sun. The advantage of dark and grey weather is the fact that after burners looks very spectacular during take-off. The runway would today be used in two directions. The fighters and other small aircraft would depart with westerly winds in the right direction. The large cargo aircraft would all leave with downwind. There was hardly any wind and therefore it was possible. The large aircraft needed to be towed towards the runway, because the taxi tracks are not wide enough for these planes. The Dutch KDC-10 was already positioned at the head of the runway when I arrived. The KDC-10 was the first aircraft which departed. Shortly after the departure of the KDC-10 the Norwegians were about to leave. This appeared to be one of the highlights of this departures wave. The sky was dark gray and the two Norwegian F-16s left with full afterburner. I prepared my camera for a series of panning shots during these departures. It is always the question or these kinds of pictures will be sharp, because it is a challenge. This kind of photography is using the lens on its border of the specification. I was very pleased the take-off of the Norwegian F-16s was very successful. The aircraft had a flame of over 10 meters behind it when they thundered along me at high speed.

The departure of the Norwegian F-16s had set the trend of the day with all these afterburners. All aircraft which departed during the morning hours used full afterburner during take-off. The French Alpha-Jet from Tours was waiting at the head of the runway for permission to leave. The Alpha-Jet started to move after a few minutes. The small aircraft came loose from the ground in front of the spotter area. The Belgian Sea-King left Florennes via the back door. The helicopter departed immediately from the static

line and flew away from the airbase. The pilot of the German Bo-105 Bölkow had other plans. Also this helicopter took off from the static line. The pilot turned the helicopter back over the runway and flew low at high speed along the public. This fly-by was one of the nicest which I have seen so far at this event. Three Belgian A-109s left Florennes shortly after the departure of the German Bölkow. These helicopters were parked in front of the hangar on the opposite site of the runway. It seemed the helicopters were gone immediately. This was not the case, because shortly after the departure of the helicopters they flew in formation over the runway along the audience. The AWACS was towed towards the runway after the departure of the Belgian helicopters. The aircraft would depart from the other side during take-off. This brought a lot of variation in the photos today. The E-3 went airborne halfway the length of the runway. It was the perfect moment to capture the big aircraft. The aircraft took off with the characteristic whistle of the engines. The Swiss aircraft taxied to the head of the runway in the meanwhile. The first aircraft which departed were the two Swiss F-18s. These 2 planes took off in a tight formation. Both F-18s were followed by a long trail of condensed air which was generated by the wing tips. These trails are a familiar sight during the take-off of an F-18. The large PC-7 formation left in 3 groups of 4 aircraft.

One of the nicest F-16 departures at this moment was the take-off of the Dutch F-16s. The first F-16 which took off, was the orange demo F-16 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. This F-16 flew low and very fast over the runway. The second F-16 was also very quickly airborne. This F-16 rolled on its left side towards the spotter area. This resulted in some spectacular afterburner photos. The RNLAF F-16s were soon followed by a Belgian Falcon 20. The take-off of the 2 MiG-29s of the Slovak Air Force was quite disappointing. I was hoping for some afterburner shots, but the aircraft crawled over the runway without an afterburner. Unfortunately these were not the spectacular shots which I hoped for. The next participant which left was the Belgian C-130 Hercules. The pilot of this Hercules remained at less than 2 meters above the runway with its gear retracted during the departure. The French Epsilons and the German Bronco departed shortly after the Hercules. The Czech L-159s left in forma- tion shortly after the departure of the other aircraft. The 2 Alca's were accompanied by 1 single Czech Grippen. This Grippen had a Tiger Meet painting on its tail. The aircraft had a yellow tail showing a big Tiger. The support CASA 295 had left in the other direction of the runway compared to the fighter aircraft.

The 3 Su-22s from Poland were warming up on the platform in the meanwhile. One of the fitters had troubles during start-up and the aircraft would leave a little bit later. The first 2 Fitters taxied to the runway. It was soon clear the fitters would take-off simultaneously. The formation take-off brought me a few very nice photos; the Fitters both rotated in front of my lens. The third Su-22 departed 15 minutes later due to its technical problems. This aircraft passed me with full afterburner during take-off. The two Danish F-16s departed right after the departure of the Polish CASA 295. Bot Danish F-16s left with much noise. The most violent take-off of the day was conducted by the German Tornado IDS. This large plane went almost vertically upwards after take-off. The two Austrian PC-7s were much quieter compared to the Tornado. Another 3 Marchetti’s left back to Beauvechain after the departure of the PC-7s. The Dutch Chinook made a very nice fly-by when the helicopter left to Gilze-Rijen. The last participants which left were the Croatian An-32 and the Croatian PC-9s. Also the Dutch Hawker Hunter left back to Leeuwarden. The Florennes airshow was over after the return of a Belgian F-16. After 2 nice days I went home with some beautiful photos.

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