Belgian Helidays 2017
On April 12, 2017 the Beauvechain Air Base (EBBE) opened its doors to the public for the Belgian Helidays. This open door took place during the international military exercise “Belgian Helidays” where twenty helicopters participated from seven different countries. The most impressive participants were a special painted Mi-24 Hind of the Czech Air Force, an AH-64 Apache of the United States Air Force, a Sea King MK.41 of the German Navy, an AH-64 Apache of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, a Eurocopter EC135 of the German Air Force and a Fennec AS550 of the French Air Force. One of the goals of this military exercise was to train the different crews in Composite Air Operations (COMAO).
The Beauvechain Air Base is the biggest military airfield in Belgium. The base was commissioned in 1936 and has a very rich history. Today about 1 500 people work at this airbase, spread across several units and squadrons. It is home to the 1st Wing, operating A109 Agusta and NH90 TTH helicopter squadrons and the Basic Flying Training School, operating SIAI Marchetti SF.260 trainer aircraft. The Beauvechain Air Base also houses the Meteorological Wing of the Belgian Air Component and the 1st Wing Historical Center, a military museum which has a number of historic aircraft on display. It was the first time in seven years that this airbase opened its doors for the general public. Because the A-109 Agusta of the Belgian Air Force celebrates in 2017 its 25th anniversary, this was also the perfect opportunity to show the capabilities of this multi functional helicopter.
During the open door on April 12, 2017 the Beauvechain Air Base received more than 10.000 visitors. The general public could learn more about the technical characteristics of all the participating helicopters, their equipment and air displays. Also present were several military vehicles and the Special Forces Group of the Belgian Land Component and an exhibition about the 70th anniversary of the Belgian Air Force. On April 11, 2017 the 1st Wing organized a special spottersday. More than 450 photographers and aviation enthusiasts watched the arrivals of the helicopters and their training for the Belgian Helidays exercise. To spoil photographers even more during this wonderful day, the 1st Wing also organized a special sunset photoshoot. Two Belgian military helicopters, an A-109 Agusta and a NH90 TTH, were provided with special lighting so photographers could take plenty of beautiful photos. I would like to thank the 1st Wing and the public relations department of the Belgian Air Force for this wonderful event!
Participating countries and helicopters:
Belgium (NH90 TTH, NH90 NFH, A-109 Agusta, Aérospatiale Alouette III, MD 902)
Germany (EC-135, EC-135, Sea King Mk.41)
The Netherlands (Boeing AH-64 Apache)
United States of America (Boeing AH-64 Apache)
Czech Republic (Mil Mi-24 Hind)
France (Eurocopter AS555 Fennec)
Austria (Aérospatiale Alouette III)
Text & photos: Kris Christiaens
Location: Beauvechain Air Base, Belgium
More info: Belgian Air Force