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KLu Opendays  Leeuwarden AB,  17 June 2006

The bad weather on Friday the 16th made us decide to visit the Koninklijke Luchtmacht Opendays at Leeuwarden AB on Saturday June 17th. Early in the morning around 6.15 o'clock in the morning we drove towards Leeuwarden. After a big traffic jam close to the city of Leeuwarden we arrived at the base at 9.30 o'clock. We parked our car on base and from here it was only a two minute walk to the static display. We started with the static which was parked at the flightlines on the south side of the field. Highlights of the static display were the Polish MiG-29 Fulcrum, the Czech Gripen and the Turkish NF-5's.


Due to the traffic jam we had on our way to Leeuwarden we arrived a bit late at the fence, so it was already pretty crowded over there. So unfortunately we had to find some good spots on the second row. The weather was perfect throughout the day as you can see on the pictures below. The flying display was actually a bit disappointing with only a few solo displays and mainly display teams. There were also some huge gaps between the shows.

Highlights of the show were the solo display of the F-15E Strike Eagle, the display of the Spanish EF-18A Hornet and of course The Blue Angels. After the flying display we walked back to the static display to take some more shots over here. For most aircraft the sun was now in a better position, which made easier to take good static shots.  (Click here for a full log)


History of the Blue Angels

Last year when I was in the United States I saw The Blue Angels perform for the first time. What a fantastic show it was! Besides the six mighty Hornets, the ground show and the take off of Fat Albert are really stunning. This year The Blue Angels are celebrating their 60th anniversary. More than 40 years ago, in 1965 was the first and only visit of The Blue Angels to the Netherlands. At that time they were flying the F11F-1 Tiger. Their last European visit was even in 1992, when they did a full European tour.


The Blue Angels show starts with a huge ground show followed by Fat Albert demonstrating it's jet-assisted takeoff (JATO) capability. Eight solid-fuel rocket bottles, four on each side, attached near the rear paratrooper doors thrust the Hercules skyward. Fired simultaneously, the JATO bottles allow the mammoth transport aircraft to takeoff within 1,500 feet, climb at a 45-degree angle, and propel it to an altitude of 1,000 feet in approximately 15 seconds. Getting Fat Albert airborne in minimal time and distance simulates conditions in hostile environments or on short, unprepared runways.


The Blue Angels performed their first display in June 1946 flying the F6F Hellcat. Later on in 1946 they transferred to the F8F Bearcat followed by their first jet, the F9F-2 Panther in the late 1940's. In 1954 they switched to the swept-wing F9F-8 Cougar and already three years later they started flying the F11F-1 Tiger. This jet they operated for 12 years till they selected the F-4J Phantom II as their new display jet. In December 1974, the Navy Flight Demonstration Team began flying the McDonnell Douglas A-4F Skyhawk II and was reorganized into the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron. On November 8, 1986, the Blue Angels completed their 40th anniversary year during ceremonies unveiling their present aircraft, the new sleek McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the first dual-role fighter/attack aircraft now serving on the nation’s front lines of defense. 





Copyright © 2006 by Rob Hendriks


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