Open Door 7/8 July
Bates was there on Sunday.
Koksijde, home of the Belgian SAR helicopter fleet, was once again
open to visitors in early July for its annual 'Open Door'. With the
KLu show taking place at Leeuwarden almost simultaneously, it was
no surprise to see both venues sharing a few of the display acts.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the weather. Whilst Northern
Holland had been sweltering in the heat, Koksijde was subject to rain,
mist and strong wind. So much so, that the flying displays were all
but cancelled, apart from a few helicopter demonstrations, and a 20(R)
Squadron Harrier hovering in the murk.
the audience was denied the opportunity to experience a number of
fast jet displays such as the French Mirage F1 duo, Belgian F-16,
and 56(R) Squadron Tornado F3, whilst the ever popular Red Arrows
were completely out of the question. However, despite the weather,
the local populace was
not deterred. Visitor numbers appeared little different from previous
shows, and there was a steady stream of cars still arriving, well
into the afternoon.
Fortunately, the static display contained a number of interesting
participants that helped to diffuse any possible disappointment, so
with a little patience photography was a viable option, provided you
were prepared to wait for a suitable window of opportunity in the
weather. As far as highlights were concerned, prime candidates were
most likely the pair of CAF CF-18A Hornets, both adorned with special
markings. One (188720) appeared to be celebrating
30 years of 1 AMS, whilst the other (188724)
was painted in a superb chequerboard colour scheme, which was destined
to become quite familiar to many enthusiasts a few weeks later following
participation at RIAT.
frontline jets of note in the static included a Danish F-16AM, Italian
AMX-T, German Navy Tornado, Luftwaffe F-4F and a Belgian F-16AM
wearing special marks to celebrate 50 years of 23 Squadron.
Given the nature of routine operations at Koksijde, helicopters naturally
accounted for a large part of the static display. A wide variety of
machines were in evidence ranging from the humble Belgian Army Alouette
II, to the brutish US Army AH-64A Apache. The rotary winged line-up
also included a pair of French Navy Alouette
IIIs (as well as an AdlA and Belgian example),
along with a French Gendarmerie AS.350B, Luftwaffe UH-1D,
US Army OH-58D(I) and Belgian Sea King which was also sporting a special
colour scheme to celebrate 25 years of operations.
virtually all flying demonstrations scuppered by the weather, there
was ample opportunity to go check out the gate guardian, something
your scribe had failed to do during previous visits. The original
pole mounted Hunter is now also accompanied by Koksijde's preserved
H-34, which had used to grace the static park
during previous open days.
Despite the best attentions of the weather, Koksijde once again proved
to be worthy of a visit for any enthusiasts returning from Leeuwarden.
This Belgian AF Open Day traditionally falls during the same weekend
as the annual Dutch AF show, so fingers crossed for better weather