The bi-annual Belgian Air Force Days air show rotates around a number of bases in Belgium and this year it was the turn of Kleine-Brogel to host the event. Prior to the main show on both the Saturday and Sunday, the Belgium Airforce held a Spotters Day on the Friday. Disappointingly several aircraft including the Slovakian MIG 29 and NATO E-3 arrived the day before denying us the chance to see these in the air. There was however plenty of other arrivals and practice displays to keep the visitors happy.
The Belgium Air Force Days Arrivals 2018 started with thankfully the only wet weather of the weekend, drenching the hundreds of enthusiasts as they queued in the field by the main entrance for the gates to open. After the usually bag checks it was then a near 1KM walk to the start of the crowd line. Spotters had access to the full length of the crowd line with around a quarter of the food stalls open. A first for me was the charge to use the toilets. Eur2 bought you a wristband for the day or Eur5 for the three days. Although charging to use the loos seems extreme, when you add it to the 40 euro cost of the three days it’s still a very cheap event.
We originally starting at the northern end of the crowd line by the Polish Hind which had also arrived the previous day but it became clear that the majority of arriving aircraft were turning off short to the taxiway which also doubled as the static line so we relocated just south of this, just in time for the arrival of the Ukrainian formation. With their now signature low pass down the runway before the two Su-27 Flankers broke to land and the IL-76 went to Brussels airport where it was based for the weekend. The rest of the day was split between arrivals of the remaining static aircraft including the large contingent of rotary assets and practice displays by the majority of the display aircraft.
Highlights of the day included the arrival of the BAF Alouette III as well as practice displays by the Royal Air Force Typhoon, Czech Gripen in a stunning 100th Anniversary scheme and Belgium F-16 before the arrival of Supermarine Spitfire SL721. This Mk XVI Spitfire was recently imported to Belgium from Canada and is in the colours of 421 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Shortly after 3pm was the arrival of the Italian F35A, making its first trip to Belgium which is no surprise as it’s one of the candidates to replace the Belgium F16 fleet alongside the Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon who all had both display aircraft and trade stands. It was also the airshow debut of an Italian Air Force F-35A although it was only on static display on the taxiway with the rest of the line up and moved back to the hanger complex on the far side of the airfield each night.
Although the day was meant to finish at 4pm the Belgium Air Force were in no rush to ask people to leave which enabled everyone to see the final practice displays of the day from the Greek F16 and the fantastic display from the Ukrainian Su27 Flanker.
A well organised start to the Belgium Air Force Days 2018 air show weekend with some great flying and some unusual arrivals esp the large number of rotary aircraft.