Interview – Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron

All photo credit © Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron

Not many people know what is the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron, introduce it to us. 

The NORWEGIAN AIR FORCE HISTORICAL SQUADRON is a non-profit organization, dedicated to keeping unique aircraft where they belong – in the air! We display our aircraft to the public at air shows and events as often as we can. This so also new generations can see our vintage jets flying.
We display our aircraft at air shows and sometimes we fly heritage flights together with the Royal Norwegian Air Force, this helping with promoting and recruiting. Flying our de Havilland Vampires, Norway’s first jet fighter, often in formation with the current combat aircraft the Lockheed Martin F-16.
The Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron was founded in 2008 and is based at Rygge Air Base Norway. Our first aircraft D.H. Vampire, PX-M was acquired in 2005. We display at major air shows and we are frequently seen at a number of the biggest air shows in Europe and in the UK.
Our goals are summarized below:
– Preserve ex-military historical aircraft in an airworthy condition
– Display unique historic aircraft to the public at air shows around Europe
– Educate people in aviation and the important role these vintage aircraft played in history
– Proudly promote aviation heritage
We preserve, maintain and operate these historic aircraft and work hard to make them fly for many years to come. We have established our own Civil Aviation Authority authorized maintenance organization maintaining our jets. Our experienced technicians are voluntary, and help with a vast knowledge and expertise. Some are retired Royal Norwegian Air Force technicians with more than 40 years of experience on fighters including, Spitfires, Vampires, T-33, F-84, RF-84, F-86, F-104, F-5, RF-5 and F-16.
Aircraft operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron:
– de Havilland Vampire T.55 two seater PX-M
– de Havilland Vampire FB.52 single seater PX-K
– MiG-15UTI (SB Lim-2) RED 18
– Canadair CT-133 T-Bird DP-S

The NORWEGIAN AIR FORCE HISTORICAL SQUADRON, dedicated to keeping unique aircraft where they belong – in the air was established in 2008. It started when the founders Mette and Kenneth Aarkvisla acquired de Havilland Vampire T.55 (G-DHZZ, ex swisse U-1230) from Source Classic Flight at Bournemouth in 2005. Kenneth an airline captain working for Braathens and then Scandinavian Airlines had been playing with the idea for quite some time to acquire a jet and bring it to Norway. Mette and Kenneth had previous owned two Yak-52’s and had for some years visiting UK frequently going to airshows and visiting airfields. Vampire G-DHZZ was brought to Norway in 2007 and registered LN-DHZ as well as painted up to represent DH Vampire PX-M serving with 336 Sqn. RNoAF in the 50’s. The first engineer named Henrik Bjørnå joined up and an maintenance approval was granted from the No CAA. Henrik had joined the RNoAF in 1953 as an engineer working on Spitfires and Vampires and was long since retired from the RNoAF, but he had also gained his civilian engineer licenses and had previously about 15 years earlier established a maintenance organization around a single seat Vampire (LN-JET) the first ex mil. civilan jet to fly in Norway.

How many poeple are there together? Pilots, ground crew?

The squadrons personell are all volunteers. We are four pilots and checking out the 5th. (see attachments for pilots) Display pilot and co owner Per Strømmen who flew for many years retired last year. Pilots are all current military or ex military and retired from airlines. (Scandinavian Airlines)

We are 6-7 regular engineers all volunteers and another 8-10 who helps in between when needed. The squadron also have dedicated crew chiefs whom assist at airshows sometimes travel in the our two-seaters on ferry flights. Three of our crew chiefs lives in the UK and they are our regulars at our airshow participating over there.

The squadron has obtained our civilian maintenance approval from the Norwegian CAA and capable to carry out our maintenance tasks. Our maintenance organization is led by a manager and our chief engineer.

Our engineers cower all parts of aircraft maintenance such as:
– Airframe
– Aircraft systems
– Avionics & instruments
– Engine

Tell us your personal experience of the jet you fly.

I checked out in the Vampire T.55 in 2007 with my instructor the ‘late’ Bertil Gerhardt ex Swedish AF pilot and chief pilot in the company Biltema (Biltema also operate a Spitfire and a P-51 Mustang). The Vampire is a great aircraft with excellent handling characteristics and a superb display machine. It’s twin boom layout as well as the whistle sound from the Goblin engine makes it a spectacular display aircraft. It has relatively good range for ferry flights, and it is a safe aircraft with little technical problems. Vampire is a trusty aircraft whom I have became very familiar with and I have accumulated more than 300 flight hours on type. It still comes to me when I fly it what an amazing aircraft this is and what a fantastic aerodynamically design accomplished by those de Havilland designers back in 1943. Ferry range is amazing 2 hours and 600NM and it takes us direct to UK from our Base at Rygge airforce base Norway. I am now an instructor and examiner on the Vampire myself.

I checked out in the MiG-15UTI in April 2015 at the Jet Warbird Training Center; Fantasy Fighters at Santa Fe New Mexico with instructor and owner Larry Salganek. Larry is an fantastic nice person and a very experienced instructor with more than a 1000 flight hours in his MiG-15 UTI. I am now in my 4th season displaying the MiG and have accumulated 100 flight hours on type. The MiG-15 is off course a spectacular aircraft and with a design who trills the airshow spectators. Its swept wings and characteristic design is very popular. It is a very joyful and agile aircraft to fly and display and off course it is faster than the Vampires. The MiG is also a fantastic construction and design and is very good and strong engineered and also proved to be technically a reliable aircraft. The MiG has most of the classic swept wing flying characteristics which some are not so good and range and endurance is much more restricted than in the Vampire. We are aware of all this and operate the aircraft accordingly with the highest respect and always the focus on safety as a number one priority.

How hard to maintain the jets? To get spare parts?

Our jets are basically not too complicated to maintain although it’s design is not constructed for easy and quick maintenance. They are quite man hour consuming maintenance wise simply because at the time of construction the designers was not very much focused on simple and easy maintenance and personell and engineers was available in huge numbers.

Spare parts are no longer available from aircraft dealers but there are still spare parts to get from collectors and individuals that have taken care of them for years. When the swiss sold their Vampires in 1990 people bought large quantities of spare parts that are still around. Sometimes it may take a while to find what we are looking for and to acquire spare parts is always our priority and we are always interested to buy parts to secure operation of our aircraft for many years we hope.

When do you start your training and where?

The squadron start the annual training in April and early May for the airshow season.

Do you have a calendar for the 2018 season? Where will the Squadron perform this year?

The calendar is preliminary and may change and not all events are confirmed at this time

Who decides where will you perform?

Airshow organizers simply book us and depending on if we are available, where the location is as well as our previous and next airshow appearance we are able to accept.

Are you in contact with the Norwegian Air Force?

We are based on a Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) base where the military provide us with hangarage. We also help with recruiting for the airforce and take parts in fly-by’s and events where we fly in formation with RNoAF aircraft like the F-16.

How can someone join the Squadron as a pilot?

We recruit new pilots from the airforce especially among those with a passion to fly historic aircraft and display at airshows. One of our pilots (Jyri) is from Finland and is a F-18 pilot in the Fi. A.F. However being expensive to check out new pilots we hope to keep our pilots as long as possible so the demand for checking out new ones is very limited.

Does the team have a website? Facebook page?

Yes. http://www.historicalsquadron.no/

Will soon be a new updated version http://www.historicalsquadron.com

We are also on facebook.

Any best moment in your Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron pilot career? Favourite airshow?

They are all great. IWM Duxford and it’s amazing atmosphere and leading a 4 ship formation with 2 X Vampires and 2 X F-16 from RNoAF at the Duxford September show 2012 was great. The RAF airshows and perhaps the now closed down RAF Leuchars Air Show was the most memorable. RNAS Yeovilton Air Day is a memorable and great airshow. Taking part in flying in the V-Formation at Yeovilton Air Day (Vulcan Vixen Vampires) and we even got the 1st price for best fixed wing display with our two Vampires from the very Royal Navy.

V-formation Yeovilton Air Day. Vixen, Vulcan & NOAFHS Vampires.

Taking part in the Captain Eric ‘Wincle’ Brown memorial airshow at Yeovilton. They are all great and memorable.

Any expansion in the fleet in the future? A new plane maybe?

However no current plans at this time we are interested in acquiring new aircraft from time to time. It is demanding to keep several aircraft airworthy as it needs a lot of man hours for the maintenance. Our T-33 has sadly not flown since 2013 due to maintenance work and some of the key personell been stationed abroad due airforce posting, however we hope the T-33 will fly again later this year.

Any airshow you would like to fly in Europe?

Having participating at many airshow in the UK we would also very much like to be invited to many of the airshow on the European mainland. We would love to come to Hungary and display.

Thank you very much! Any final words to our readers?

To all the readers and all airshow fans we will say thank you for your continuous support to us as well as to airshows. You are most important for the continuation of the industry and airshow arrangement and we are thank full to all enthusiasts reading magazines as well as coming to watch airshows and see us fly and take brilliant photographs. Thank you for your continuous support.

BELOW:

Personel info of the crews of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron:

Kenneth Aarkvisla
Display pilot de Havilland Vampire & MiG-15. Flying experience: 15000 hours.

Kenneth’s interest for flying started early in childhood and aged 15 he flew solo in a glider. He was active in gliding competitions, aerobatics and instructing, and has logged 800 hours on gliders. Kenneth joined the military in 1981 where he became a pilot, and he accumulated 1500 military flight hours. Kenneth was also trained as a Forward Air Controller (Airfac), directing and guiding aircraft to attack ground targets.

Kenneth is a retired airline captain from Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) where he used to fly the Boeing 737, 4-5-6-7-800 aircraft. Kenneth is initiator and founder of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron, and he has a huge passion for historical aircraft and enjoys the classic jets very much. He has been displaying and flying D.H. Vampires since 2007 and accumulated more than 300 hours on the type, and he is also the MiG-15UTI display pilot and he is in his forth season on flying the MiG.

Kenneth is the manager of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron and also takes part in the maintenance work on the aircraft and this ensure he got a good technical knowledge on the historic aircraft he flies. He has always had a passion for aerobatics and used to fly aerobatics in his YAK-52. Kenneth is also a Flight Instructor (FI) as well as a type rating instructor (TRI) and examiner (TRE) on the de Havilland Vampire. He has logged more than 15000 flight hours.

Rolf Meum
Display pilot. Flying experience: 13200 hours.
Norwegian Rolf Meum is the third pilot in the team being qualified in the Vampire for the 2016 season. Previously Rolf has displayed the T-33 in the 2012-13 season. Rolf has huge warbird and airshow display experience and having flown for the OFMC and Fighter Collection among others. Rolf is a very experienced display pilot with a fantastic flying reputation and have been fortunate to fly some of the most rare, precious and historically renowned veteran aircraft. Rolf was more or less born with an interest for flying as his father was a former fighter pilot and airline captain. Rolf started gliding at aged 15 and took his private pilot license aged 18 and became the year after Nordic champion in aerobatic flying. He started military pilot training in the Royal Norwegian Air Force once graduated from school. Rolf got his flying wings and was assigned to RNoAF 338 Squadron flying F-5 in 1979 aged 21 and believed to be NATO youngest operational front line fighter pilot at that time. Later Rolf had a career as an airline pilot for Scandinavian Airlines flying DC-9, B767 and B737.
Rolf has a long aviation reputation with vintage aircraft not many others can boast. Having flown various marks of Spitfires as well as Messerschmidt 109, Corsair, Mustang, Hawk 75 and P-40 and Hawker Sea Fury among others.

Vintage jets are also well known to Rolf and he is checked out in Hawker Hunter, F-86, MiG-15, T-33 and L-29. Rolf also flew L-39 in the James Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies and he has also flown in several other movies including Memphis Belle.

Rolf has flown an amazing more than 1000 airshow displays and trainings and
has logged more than 750 hours on warbirds. He also used to be an UK CAA display evaluator for a period of 14 years and he is currently a No CAA display evaluator.

Martin “TinTin” Tesli
Display pilot. Flying experience: 4000 hours.

Martin is one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force’s (RNoAF) most experienced fighter pilots having served many years with the RNoAF 338 (Tiger) Squadron based at Ørland Air Base located North-West of Trondheim. He joined the Air Force in 1994 and went through flight training at Sheppard A.F.B. USA in 1997. He also attended the Air Force Academy as well as the NATO Defence Academy at Shrivenham UK. Martin is a graduate from the Fighter Weapons Instructor Training (FWIT) at Leeuwarden Air Base, where he became a qualified weapons instructor. He has taken part in operations in Serbia, Afghanistan and Libya. Martin holds the rank of Lieutenant colonel (Lt Col) and is currently based at Luke A.F.B. in the US flying the new F-35 fighter for the RNoAF.
Martin joined the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron in 2010 and has a true passion for historical aircrafts. He acquired the Canadair T-33 in 2012 from the US and is qualified display pilot the T-33 and the D.H. Vampire. Martin is also a skilled commentator during our flying displays. Martin has logged more than 3000 flight hours in the F-16 and has a total of more than 4000 hours, most of them on high performance jets. He is currently among our most experienced F-35 pilots.

Pilot Jyri Mattila
Display pilot D.H. Vampire.
Flying experience: More than 2500 hours.

Jyri Matilla is our newest pilot joined the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron in the 2017 season and checked out in the de Havilland Vampire as a display pilot. Jyri is from our neighbour country Finland.
Jyri has a huge passion for flying that started in childhood and he is a fighter pilot joining the Finnish Air Force in 1996. Jyri holds the position as the Finnish Air Force chief test pilot and flying F/A-18 Hornets and BAE Hawk among others. His daily work is at the Finnish Air Force test centre at Satakunta Air Command, based at Tampere–Pirkkala.
Jyri has flown more than 60 different types of aircraft and besides his work in the air force he flies airshow displays and aerobatic competitions with Extra 300 and Pitts S-12. He also enjoys flying and towing gliders. Jyri has also huge experience in organizing air displays at airshows as Display Director and deputy at the main annual Finnish air show event. From his test pilot duties he has flown a number of fighter aircraft besides the Fi AF inventory aircraft like JAS 39 Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafaele among others.

Like in the Royal Norwegian Air Force the de Havilland Vampire was the Finnish Air Force first jet fighter, and later on Finland also operated the MiG-15UTI. Besides Jyri’s very fine flying skills and great experience the past history of the aircraft types currently operated by the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron and Finland fits well in.

Mette Aarkvisla is a founder of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron and aircraft owner. Mette has the position as the Team Manager and airshow coordinator keeping most of our documents sorted.
Mette and Kenneth acquired the first D.H. Vampire T.55 (former swiss Air Force U-1230, PX-M) from Bournemouth UK in 2005 and she is one of the initiators and founders of the Norwegian Air Force Historical Squadron. Among other Mette takes care of bookings, economy, and she runs the logistics at our airshow participations, as well as organizing and coordinating and keeping most of our documents sorted. She also has great experience from taking part in organizing airshows.
Mette has been flying as a Senior Cabin Crew Member on the Boeing 737 for the airline Norwegian. She retired in June 2017.