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Dutch delights on staticDutch delights

LEEUWARDEN - KLu Open Dagen 2001 6/7 July 2001

Andrew Bates made it on Saturday.

After last year's soggy September show at Volkel, the annual 'Koninklijke Luchtmacht Open Dagen' (Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Day) returned to its traditional early July slot in this year's airshow calendar and was held at the KLu's most Northerly home airfield, Leeuwarden. In stark contrast to the 2000 show, conditions were extremely warm and dry, although the sunshine proved elusive thanks to a predominately overcast sky. However, in the words of a popular song, "two out of three ain't bad", especially when compared to last year's deluge.

Whilst the flying programme bore all the hallmarks of a classic show, with a mix of jets, helicopters and historic pistons, the event was effectively dominated by a succession of fast jet displays from a number of participating nations, which along with a further variety of frontline hardware in the static, ensured that all the 'wannabe' jet jockeys amongst us were well catered for.

Jets on show
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In amongst all the individual demonstrations there were three display teams in attendance - Team Orlik from Poland, the Patrouille Suisse, and the Red Arrows. The Reds performed quite early in the proceedings, which made a nice change for your scribe, enabling their show to be fully appreciated (being used to UK venues keeping the best until last, I'm usually away early to beat the traffic, thus missing their performance - sorry lads!).

One of the highlights, one of the Singapore AF A-4sHowever, there was one thing that the flying programme clearly had an abundance of - fast jets. Some loud, and some even louder, but all with the common purpose of thrilling and entertaining the crowd, as well as quickening the pulse of your average enthusiast. At times there seemed to be no let up, as one display followed another, pausing only briefly for some of the more sedate and historic aircraft to take their turn.

Consequently, the flying participants included (amongst others) a Luftwaffe Mig-29 & F-4F, French Mirage 2000B & Jaguar pair, Swedish Viggen & Gripen, Romanian Mig-21 Lancer, not forgetting the Dutch F-16. The event was well supported by the RAF, with displays from the Harrier, Hawk, Jaguar & Tornado F3. Providing a little welcome relief to everyone's hearing was an Austrian Saab 105 and Belgian Alpha Jet.    

As with the 2000 Dutch show at Volkel, manufacturers were also in attendance. There were demonstrations from the Dassault Rafale B, as well as Italian Eurofighter Typhoon DA-07, whilst Boeing and Lockheed Martin were keen to provide full size replicas in the static of their respective X-32 and X-35 designs, both contenders for the JSF project. With the F-16 MLU programme well on the way to completion, it's likely that now is the time to be considering long term future plans for an ultimate successor to the Falcon, hence the manufacturers' high profile.

Luftwaffe Tornado 43+02 from JbG 38As for the remainder of the static, (which comprised of real aeroplanes), it was a photographer's dream. Not only were the aircraft nicely spaced, they were also well back from any obtrusive barriers, and there wasn't a bouncy castle or fairground wheel in sight to spoil the view. Hmm, what a refreshing change, if only this standard could be attained at other shows………(apologies for the radical thought, back to the article).
   
Attracting the most attention in the static was a pair of Singaporean Skyhawks, an A-4SU, and its twin seat counterpart, a TA-4SU, both thankfully being different examples to the pair seen at Waddington's show last year. Also of great interest was a Romanian Mig-21 Lancer, though regrettably this was one of the examples seen at Volkel's 2000 show. Don't you just hate it when that happens!?

Other static highlights from the jet fraternity included a Turkish F-16C, Swedish Viggen & Gripen, Luftwaffe F-4F, Mig-29, & Tornado, along with a Navy example, and an Austrian Saab 105. Plus there were a pair of AMXs, Lakenheath F-15Es, Danish F-16s, whilst further RAF participation included both a pair of 11 Squadron Tornado F3s and Coltishall Jaguars, the latter comprising a 6 Squadron GR3 and a 54 Squadron T4.

Rafale flew...There was also a good selection of helicopters on display, most notable of which was a Polish Navy W-3ARM and a Danish Army H500M, which wore a special colour scheme celebrating 30 years of the Cayuse. However, as always, the menacing shape of an Apache seemed to attract most of the attention amongst the rotary winged aircraft, in this case it was a Dutch AH-64D attracting the onlookers.

As with most Dutch shows, the event was closed in fine style with an 'air power' demonstration. Effectively the airfield is 'attacked' by F-16s, before a variety of helicopters, such as Cougars, Chinooks, and Apaches simulate an airborne assault. Other Dutch assets are also granted the opportunity to display, such as the C-130 and KDC-10. And so another KLu Open Dagen drew to a successful conclusion, and everyone remained dry! If you've never been to one of the annual Dutch AF Open Days, then they are certainly worthy of consideration. Not only are the shows well organised, along with a good selection of flying and static airframes for the enthusiast, but they are always free admission as well!

 

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