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Spottersday  Beauvechain AB,  21 July 2009

The participation list was pretty promising with a Vinka of the Finnish Air Force, Hellenic T-6 Texan II and AMI SF.260s. So lots of reasons to visit the Spottersday at Beauvechain AB this year. Mike Schoenmaker and I arrived here already at eight o'clock in the morning, so we were among the first to enter the base.


When we entered the public area we saw only the Italians made it to Belgium, so unfortunately most of the highlights stayed away. Even the two Hellenic T-6 Texans  which arrived at Aviano AB a day prior didn't make it to Beauvechain AB. The way the static display was parked was very disappointing, it was almost impossible to take shots of the aircraft parked here.


After we wrote down the numbers and walked back to the beginning of the static display we where told that busses will bring us to the other side of the base. Here we were able to take some nice shots a the parked Alpha Jets and French Xingu's. Too bad the Swiss PC-21s were parked inside a shelter. Unfortunately we were not allowed to visit the ramp with the parked SF.260s.


Around 12.30h we came back from the other side of the airbase and decided to wait of the mass take off, as I still didn't see the ST-03 (my last Belgian SF.260). Again they arranged a nice spotters area closer to the runway, but still very very far away. You needed at least a 800mm lens to take shots of the SF.260s departing. Again very disappointing.


At three o'clock no less then eighteen SF.260s departed to participate it a fly-by over Brussels. This time I was lucky, as the fifteenth SF.260 to become airborne was the ST-03. When all the aircraft were airborne we decided to leave Beauvechain AB and drove back to Eindhoven, where I arrived just in time of my evening shift.   (Click here for a full log of the day)



History of Beauvechain AB


Beauvechain AB existed already during World War II. Since the end of the war the 1st Wing is stationed here with two squadrons (smaldeels, as the call them in Belgium) 349 and 350 Smaldeel. Since then they operated with Spitfires, Mosquito's, Meteors, CF.100s, Hunters and T-33s. The 42nd Smaldeel was also stationed at Beauvechain AB for three years. From 1963 till 1979 both the 349 and 350 Smaldeel flew with the F-104 Starfighter. This mighty jet was later replaced by the F-16. In 1996 the 349 Smaldeel was transferred to Kleine Brogel AB and the 350 Smaldeel went to Florennes AB.


From the moment the F-16's left Beauvechain AB, the base received three new squadrons. The 5th, 7th and 11th Smaldeel. Which resulted in the disbandment of the 9th Wing at St.Truiden AB and the Elementary Flying School at Goetsenhoven. The 5th Smaldeel operates the SIAI/Marchetti SF.260, 7th Smaldeel operated the CM-170 Magister till 2007 and the 11th Smaldeel operates the Alpha Jet. Nowadays most of the Alpha Jets are stationed at BA120 Cazaux to operate together with the French Alpha Jets in the AJETS-Project. Maintenance it still done at Beauvechain AB.





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