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Exercise Garuda  BA125 Istres-Le Tubé,  16 June 2010

On Tuesday June 15th we Maurice, Fred and I visited BA125 Istres-Le Tubé to see the Indian AF Su-30MKIs and its support aircraft. Unfortunately the weather was extremely bad during this day. Heavy rainfall throughout the day resulted in floods and mudflows in the Var area, just east of our location. In Draguignan no less than 19 people lost their lives this day. And we are complaining about a little rain? We were just damn lucky!


The next day we got up early again as Maurice and Fred had to fly back to Eindhoven again. Around 5.30 o'clock in the morning I dropped them off at Marseille-Marignane Airport. Later that morning Wijgert joined me again and from here we drove towards BA125 Istres-Le Tubé.


On Wednesday the weather was a lot better than the day before, but the wind still came from the wrong direction in the morning. We joined the group with Frank, Stephan and Michiel who we met earlier this week and searched for a nice spot in the landing area. We failed, but luckily the wind shifted during the afternoon.


To indicate how big the airbase of Istres is, we had to drive more than an hour to position ourselves in the final area on the other side of the runway. This includes almost 30 minutes of dirt roads, which were pretty good accessible despite the heavy rain of the day before.


During the day lots of nice and rare aircraft passed in front of our lenses. Four different Su-30MKIs flew during the afternoon. And we were also pretty lucky the KC-135 of the Republic of Singapore Air Force and one of the Indian Air Force Il-78MKIs flew a local mission during the afternoon. Furthermore we had some very nice visitors like the French Navy Super Etendards, a French E-3F Sentry and a very nice Super Puma. Besides all these aircraft the locals flew pretty good as well; seven Mirage 2000Ns, two CEV aircraft and one C-135FR. Around six o'clock when all aircraft were back on the ground I left and drove back to Camping Le Mas in Martigues where I had to check out around seven o'clock.


Leaves me just one more thing. Despite the fact that I went to Southern France all alone, I've been alone for only one evening. Wijgert, Maurice, Fred, Frank, Stephan and Michiel you guys rock!! I really had a very nice time with you guys! And of course Angèl & Damian, thanks for letting me go. I love you!


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