When the weather is playing its game – Kleine-Brogel Spotter Day 2015
Located in the municipality of Peer, the small but picturesque town in Belgian province of Limburg, the Kleine-Brogel Air Force Base was the host of the 2015 Spotter Day.
Kleine-Brogel AFB is the home to the 10th Tactical Wing of the Belgian Air Component, operating the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets (the 31st Squadron and the 349th Squadron). As this AFB is located just a few kilometres away from the Sanicole airfield the most of Sanicole Airshow participant aircrafts are located there during the show. On this occasion the spotting day is usually organized at the base, offering the excellent photo opportunities for all aviation fans.
The 2015 edition of the Spotter Day took place on Saturday, 19th September; just between the two Sanicole airshow days. The base was opened early in the morning and all the spotters, who passed the security check done by the Explosive Detection Dog team, gathered near the Kleine-Brogel runway. And the very first impression was really disappointing… Friday was a day with rather good weather and the Sunset Airshow offered some great light condition, despite the rain at the end of the show. On Saturday morning the blanked of fog has dropped over Kleine-Brogel and it seemed that there would be no possibility to take any good photos during the day.
There was almost no activity during the first hours at the base. The visibility was just a few meters and sometimes the fog turned into the rain. Despite the weather conditions the Belgian Air Component performed some helicopter displays with Agusta A109BA and NH Industries NH-90. When the weather was really awful there was no other solution than to show the spotters the powerful fire engine, the air base is equipped with.
The slightly bored spotters were suddenly revived by the sound of the jet engines and the lights could be seen at the end of the runway. All the telephoto lenses were pointing that direction and the hum of excited voices filled up the air – there would be some airplanes taking off soon!
This was the Patrouille de France take off; the French jets were leaving Belgium after the wonderful show they performed during the Sanicole Sunset. The first group of Alpha Jets were seen on the far end of the runway, left the ground and… disappeared in the fog earlier than reaching the spotting area. There was a short moment of silence among the spotters and then everybody laughed. What a nice spotting day it would be, with the weather like that!
Fortunately, the second group of French jets didn´t go up so quickly and there was an opportunity to take some foggy photos of Patrouille de France.
It looked that the weather would spoil the Spotter Day but fortunately it turned up nice in the afternoon. There were even some moments with the blue sky and even the rain could not change the great mood of that spotting event. And with the better weather condition the main activities at the airbase have started.
The programme of the Spotter Day included the rehearsals for the Sunday show at Sanicole airshow, the arrivals of the warbirds and the static display of some Sanicole Airshow participants. There was also an opportunity to take photos of some military transport aircrafts supporting the demo teams.
The Belgian Air Component performed the rehearsals for the airshow displays: NH-90, “Thundertigers” formation from 31st Squadron and certainly the Belgian Air Force solo F-16 Demo display. There was also Patrouille Suisse aerobatic team, Polish Sukhoi Su-22M Fitter-K, Norwegian DA-20 Jet Falcon doing their rehearsals. The RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team – that performed an outstanding show on Friday – followed their French colleagues and also took off from Kleine-Brogel, heading home.
The warbirds arrivals and practice flights included North American T-28 Trojan, Cessna O-2 Skymaster, North American TB-25N Mitchell, Supermarine Spitfire IX, Rockwell OV-10 Bronco and CAC-13 Boomerang.
One of the greatest moment of the Spotter Day was the information that all technical problems that grounded “Connie” on Friday was solved and this beautiful airliner was ready to perform her display. In the late afternoon all four Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation piston engines started to spit out the fire and smoke and soon “Connie” took off from Kleine-Brogel runway.
The 2015 edition of the Spotter Day was the great addition to the Sanicole Airshow – as there is no static display at Sanicole airfield, the visitors to that event might took the opportunity to see the participating aircrafts at Kleine-Brogel. The organization of the event was perfect, there photo areas were located close to the runway and the taxiing airplanes and helicopters were going around the spotters allowing to take some interesting photos from the different angles.
In 2016 the Spotter Day would be organized at Florennes Airbase in June, celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Belgian Air Force.