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The Year 2008

2008 was just like the year 2007 a quieter year for me. It was a year with fewer journeys than previous years with only 10 trips to different locations. This doesn’t mean that I saw less nice aircraft. The year started with an excellent visit to Leeuwarden Air Base during the exercise Frisian Flag. Also the TLP at Florennes was again a great exercise with a few unique participants. I visited Reims in the northern part of France for the first time. This became my best visit ever until now. Next to this great visit I went to the UK as well. 2008 was not the year of the big quantity; but it was definitely the year of quality.


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International Exercise Frisian Flag

The Annual Dutch Air Exercise; Leeuwarden April 9, 2008

On Wednesday, April 9 2008 I was able to take part on the base visit around the Frisian Flag exercise. Frisian Flag is the largest annual exercise of the Dutch Air Force held at Leeuwarden Airbase. Several participants from several countries will join the exercise such as; Germany, France and Belgium. In the period Monday, March 31 until Friday, April 11, the international exercise Frisian Flag 2008 is held at Leeuwarden Airbase. Pilots practice flights in this period for both air to air combat and close air support for ground troops.

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The Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer

Training with the 131 EMVO Squadron; Woensdrecht, April 15, 2008

On Tuesday, April 15, 2008, I was welcome at Woensdrecht Air Base. I would visit the no 131 EMVO Squadron during this relatively short base visit. This unit is equipped with the Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer. The unit is responsible for the basic pilot training of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Royal Netherlands Air Force is using the PC-7 since 1989. There were a total of 13 aircraft purchased. All the aircraft are based at Woensdrecht Air Base in the south of the Nether- lands. The PC-7s were painted in a yellow-white-red color scheme.

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The Tactical Leadership Program 2008/3

Turkish F-4E Phantoms at Florennes; Florennes, June 3, 2008

On June 3, 2008, I again attended a TLP mission. This edition of the TLP at Florennes was an edition with more participants than previous editions. The highlight of this TLP was the participation of two Turkish F-4 Phantoms from the Turkish Konya Air Base and two Turkish F-16’ s from the Turkish Diyarbakir Air Base. The European (TLP) is an organization which was founded as the Memorandum of Understan- ding (MoU) between ten NATO countries. The aim of the TLP is to increase the effectiveness of tactical air support.

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Escadron de Reconnaissance 33

The Mirage F1 Reconnaissance; Reims-Champagne, June 17, 2008

On Tuesday, June 17, 2008, I was welcome at the French air base of Reims-Champagne. Reims is the home base of the French Mirage F1CR fleet. There are two air reconnaissance units based on this field, namely: Escadron de Reconnaissance 1/33 "Belfort" and Esca- dron de Reconnaissance 2/33 "Savoy". The Dassault Mirage F1 is a fighter of the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation. The aircraft was the successor of the French Mirage III. Unlike all his relatives, the Mirage F1 was not equipped with delta wings.

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Luchtmacht Open Dagen 2008

95 Years Netherlands Air Force; Leeuwarden, June 19 – 21, 2008

The annual Open House of the Royal Netherlands Air Force was also this year on my program. There was a spotter’s day which is nowadays held annually. The air base is open to the general public on June 20 and 21. The theme of the Open House this year is the 95th anniversary of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Open House of the Royal Netherlands Air Force is also known as De Luchtmacht- dagen. This event is held annually in June and is organized by the Royal Netherlands Air Force at an air base somewhere in Holland.

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The Army Air Corps no 9 Regiment

The British Armed Helicopter Units; AAC Dishforth, July 8, 2008

On Tuesday, July 8, 2008 I was welcome at the British AAC Dishforth at the beginning of my UK tour. Dishforth is a small helicopter field located 20 miles north of Leeds. This base is one of the home stations of the Royal Army Lynx helicopters. There are three active squadrons at AAC Dishforth. The AAC uses the Lynx in different roles; troop transport, observation and attack. The helicopter can therefore fly in different configurations depending on the type of mission which it will fly at that moment.

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Royal Air Force no 43 Squadron

Home of the RAF Fighting Cocks; RAF Leuchars, July 9, 2008

After we visited AAC Dishforth, we had on Wednesday July 9, 2008 the ability to visit the Scottish airbase RAF Leuchars. RAF Leuchars is the last airbase of the RAF in the UK which accommodates the Tornado F3. The base is located in the east of Scotland near the city of Edinburgh. All the Tornado’s from RAF Leeming and RAF Coningsby were transferred to RAF Leuchars. There is no successor for the Tornado F3 at RAF Leeming. The Tornado F3 has been replaced by the Typhoon at RAF Coningsby.

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The Royal International Air Tattoo

The Story of the RIAT Cancel; RAF Fairford, July 11, 2008

After a disappointing day at St. Mary's Loch in Scotland and a nice afternoon at RAF Warton, we finally arrived at RAF Fairford. Today on Friday, July 11th we were here to see the rehearsals for the air show next weekend. Today's program contained some arrivals and some display practice for the Air Show. The Royal International Air Tattoo is the largest military air show in the world and is held once a year during the third weekend of July at RAF Fairford. The organization had decided to cancel the event due to the heavy rainfall.

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The Alternative

Mildenhall After the Cancelled RIAT; RAF Mildenhall, July 12, 2008

After a very nice day at RAF Leuchars we left back to the south of England for the upcoming RIAT. During this trip we made a short stop at RAF Warton. This short visit resulted in a pair of Hawks including a Hawk from India. We left to the RIAT after a nice series of photos. After we attended the rehearsals of the RIAT, we heard the news that the RIAT was canceled due to bad weather. We went to RAF Mildenhall instead, because we had to wait for the boat anyway at the English channel. This resulted in a few nice photos of the RC-135.

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50 Years Phabulous Phantom

Five Decades of Smoking Airpower; Wittmundhafen, July 29, 2008

After I’ve heard many stories about the excellent photography oppor- tunities on the North-German air base Wittmundhafen, I decided to go there without the knowledge of what was going to happen on Tuesday, July 29, 2008. This base is the only place in Western Europe where the F-4 Phantom II is still operational. The unit called Jagdge- schwader 71 (JG-71) is the only one out of four units which is still operational with the F-4F Phantom II. The main task of this base is to defend the Northern German airspace.

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The Mirages of Normandie-Niemen

Escadron de Chasse 1/30; Colmar-Meyenheim, August 25, 2008

On Monday, August 25, 2008, I had a base visit at the French airbase Colmar-Meyenheim. Escadron de Chasse 1/30, nicknamed “Nor- mandie-Niemen”, is based at this base. The unit is operational with the Mirage F-1B and the Mirage F-1CT. This field will be closed due to cuts in funds at the beginning of 2009. Colmar-Meyenheim is also referred to as Base Aérienne 132 (BA132) and it is located near the French German border in the northeastern part of France. This unit is a descendant of the famous Regiment “Normandie-Niemen”.

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The Runway 28

Gilze-Rijen Air Base in 2008; Gilze-Rijen, 2008

The year of 2008 was one of my less active years at Gilze-Rijen due to time constraints due to my job and because the airbase had no runway this year. The runway of the airbase was dramatically renewed in a period of over ten months. It should be clear that in this period flight movements with fixed wing aircraft were impossible. This provided some nice photos as they flew from the taxi track right in front of their platform. The helicopters from Soesterberg finally came in at Gilze-Rijen at the end of the year after the closure of Soesterberg.

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Photography at the Golden Hour

Tactical Leadership Program 2008/6; Florennes, December 11, 2008

On Thursday, December 11, 2008, I went to the TLP for the last time this year. The temperature today was far below zero degrees Celsius; it made the pictures very sharp and clear. This TLP edition was a unique experience in combination with the low position of the winter sun. Each TLP course consists of up to 26 slots. A slot is equal to an aircraft and its crew. There are each year about 160 slots available. The slots are sold to members of the MoU nations. The remaining slots are offered and sold to the other NATO countries.

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