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AAR Dora Track - Polish Airspace,  14 June 2011

When I heard that one of our KDC-10s was scheduled for an Air-Air Refueling exercise with Polish Air Force F-16s I decided to give it a try to fly along. Within two days I had the approval, so Fred and I were put on the crew list.


On Tuesday, June 14th, Fred and I drove towards Eindhoven to catch the crew bus to Köln-Bonn Airport, where our aircraft was parked at the civil apron. The crew bus dropped us off at the military side of the airfield, so we were able to read most of the aircraft parked at the military side. Around 9:30 we arrived at the aircraft, T-235, KDC-10 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.


After the pre-flight checks, which were pretty interesting to watch, we took off around 11:45, with about an hour delay. From Köln-Bonn we flew towards the Air-Air Refueling Track, named Dora, which is located in Polish Airspace overhead 32 Baza Lotnicza Łask. The goal of the mission was to train the Polish F-16 pilots in Air-Air Refueling so they made dry hook-ups only to use the time on station as efficient as possible.


Around 12:45 we were on station in the Dora Track and a few minutes later the first Polish F-16D made contact. Twenty minutes later a two-ship came in for some dry hooks-ups. When they left the formation a four-ship was already closing in for their exercise. Fred and I were able to take some very nice shots of the Polish Vipers, but it wasn't as easy as we hoped for. The F-16s stayed a bit high and sometimes too far from our tanker, but I was very satisfied with the result.


The four-ship formation was followed by another four-ship and later a two-ship formation which where possible QRA-aircraft as they carried live A-A missiles. The two-ship didn't stay long and with in a few minutes they left the area again. The last formation to enter the Dora Track was again a four-ship Vipers, which all did two hook-ups. This gave us again lots of nice photo opportunities. After we left the area we went to the front of the aircraft where I took a seat at the jump seat behind the pilot. I stayed here for the rest of the flight, which was an awesome experience. After a flight of almost 5:30 hours we landed at our home base Eindhoven.


During this flight we saw a total of seventeen Polish F-16C/D Jastrzab which operated from both 31 Baza Lotnicza Poznań-Krzesziny and 32 Baza Lotnicza Łask. The Polish Air Force operates a total of 48 Jastrzabs from these two airbases, so seventeen is a very nice score!! A very big thanks goes out to the pilots, flight-engineer and boom operators who made this flight an unforgettable experience.     (Click here for a full log)




Copyright © 2011 by Rob Hendriks


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