Bierset, Metz and beyond!
The beginning of a new airshow season is
always eagerly awaited. On offer this year was the return of the Belgian
Helidays (after a 2 year gap) and an event at
EGSS STANSTED 12.5.07:
Flew from Stansted to Hahn on Ryanair's Boeing 737-8AS EI-DCD (c/n 33562) "FR752" taking off from runway 23 at 07:40 and landing on runway 21 at Hahn at 08:30 (09:30L).
Its always something of a shock to the
system flying into Hahn. I remember logging Phantoms and F-16s here in the good
old days, but now its all changed. Although the tower still looks familiar and
the large building beneath is still emblazoned "Base Operations" the
place is dominated by new passenger and freight terminal buildings, hotels and
all the paraphernalia of a modern airport. Russian types seem to be common here
with a couple of An-124s, an An-26 and an ex Soviet AF An-12 (still with rear
turret) on the deck as we landed.
Our plan was to start with some
heliports which have handled ex Spanish and Swedish Hughes 300s being converted
for civil use. At Ochtendung it was interesting to see that the civilianised
heliopters still wore traces of their former alliegances, for example D-HOHL
(ex HE.20-09) still wears a Spanish flag and has the insignia of Ala.78 on the
starboard side. Also found at
Ochtendung were D-HMIX (ex HE.20-07) and the cab of HE.20-06
(nearest) in the store.
Over to Saffig next (just a couple of
miles away) for Swedish Hughes, again still with evidence
of their previous service. Logged were:-
05224 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n 41-1044) ex Swedish Army, to D-HSPR.
05233 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n S-1188) ex Swedish Army, to D-DSPU.
05238 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n S-1219) ex Swedish Army, to D-HSPT.
Third and final heliport was Dattenberg,
after a ferry trip across the
05227 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n 71-1069) ex Swedish Army, to D-HSPS.
05232 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n S1168) ex Swedish Army, to D-HSPN.
05239 Hughes 300C (Hkp 5B), (c/n S-1256) ex Swedish Army, to D-HSPJ.
At Boelcke Kaserne (the barracks for
Norvenich) in Kerpen we were fortunate to negotiate access to see (but not
photograph!) F-84F Thunderstreak DA-127 (53-7102) preserved outside the
Officers' Mess and not visible from outside. F-104F 2919 on the other hand is
easily visible from the gate. Up the motorway next, to the museum at Paffendorf.
This features a Starfighter mounted on the roof and an ex WGAF P149 in garish
F-104G Starfighter, (c/n 7146) f/f 24.3.64 as KE+446, d/d Jbg.34, WGAF,
25.8.64, as DD+247, to LVR.1, to Jbg.34, Wfu 3.11.87 to LwS.11 TT 3368 hrs, to
TSLw.3 Fassberg for ABDR 5.5.89.
JB+391 Piaggio P149D, (c/n 076) ex JG.72, WGAF, to D-EABE 11.65.
EDKA AACHEN-MERZBRUCK 12.5.07:
V-27 Stampe SV4B, (c/n 1169) f/f 16.4.51, d/d BelgAF 24.5.51, to DEPE/DEVS, Cat.4 landing accident at Raversijde 17.5.52, to Stampe for repair 26.5.52, completed 29.1.53 & to ARS Wevelgem, to EPE/EVS 25.2.53, Car.3 landing accident 26.8.53, to EO/OS 17.2.55, to EPE/EVS 5.5.55, to ARS Wevelgem store 3.3.56, to EPE/EVS 21.12.57, to Stampe for overhaul 25.10.61, returned to EPE/EVS 29.6.62, Car.1 landing accident 23.7.64, out of hours 16.12.68 (1798 hrs since overhaul), to Koksijde store 23.10.69, Soc 23.3.71 TT 3780:30 hrs, auctioned 18.10.71, to G-AZUL 15.6.72, to D-EIHD 26.4.83 for Detlev Oberbach.
20255 Harvard IV, (c/n CCF4-46) ex RCAF, to CF-WPS 9.67 TT 7552 hrs, to N305GS, to D-FUKK, painted in USAF colours,
PT-13D Stearman, (c/n 75-5601) built 1.6.44, d/d USAAF at
We arrived at Bierset mid afternoon.
Once again the Belgians had put on a good show for the Helidays. The event has
been well reported so I will not repeat a full list. Instructional A109BA H-16
had been specially painted for the event (and acted as a photo mount for 'future
Refreshed with a late lunch of
frikandelle, chips and mayonnaise, we took in the barracks at Tongeren where a
slacker in the team needed Starfighter FX-15, then on to Besmer where Matt
Driessen keeps two Hungarian MiG-21MFs, a MiG-23UB (2059) and a TF-104G
Starfighter (2822) for the prospective
The day concluded with a look at the
ranges at Helchteren, to which access is possible at weekends. The three range
target F-84Fs (FU-63, FU-181, FU-183) are still here (though the cockpit of
FU-181 was recovered by a collector at Vught). Here we were looking for F-16
hulk FA-08 (crashed at Buzet 29.7.80) but it had gone from its resting place by
the range control tower and I suspect is now dumped at some remote spot within
this sizeable range complex. We then returned to
After breakfast we travelled down
through the Ardennes ("
Keeping a good lookout for departures,
we arrived at Ramstein shortly after the end of "quiet hours" at
13:00. There was a healthy crop of C-17s to be had and the Delta Sqn TDY Herks.
There has been much chopping down of trees here, both around the base and up
Kindsbach hill, all of which makes life much easier.
ETAR RAMSTEIN 13.5.07:
Ramp 2, on TDY.....
80-0320 C-130H, (r) 158 AS/165 AW, Georgia ANG.
80-0332 C-130H, (r) 158 AS/165 AW, Georgia ANG.
C-130H, (-) 142 AS/166 AW,
84-0212 C-130H, (bl) 142 AS/166 AW, Delaware ANG.
70-0455 C-5A, (bl) 137 AS/105 AW, New York ANG
86-0022 C-5B, (r/wh) 60 AMW.
85-0030 KC-10A, (bl/r) 305 AMW.
98-0055 C-17A, (gn) 62 AW.
99-0060 C-17A, (gn) 62 AW.
00-0175 C-17A, (gn) 62 AW.
01-0188 C-17A, (y/bl) 437 AW.
01-0197 C-17A, (y/bl) 437 AW.
02-1109 C-17A, (gn) 62 AW.
03-3117 C-17A, (bl/gd) 183 AS/172 AW, Mississippi ANG.
03-3119 C-17A, (bl/gd) 183 AS/172 AW, Mississippi ANG.
04-4133 C-17A, (bl) 305 AMW.
05-5140 C-17A, (or/yw) 729 AS/452 AW, AFRC.
05-5141 C-17A, (or/yw) 729 AS/452 AW, AFRC.
C-17A, (bk/wh) 60 AMW.
One of our party had never been to
Hermeskeil, so we called in there and also took the opportunity to take some pictures
in the sunshine and do a bit of detective work. WAG member Alan Allen and I had
recently discussed the vexed problem of the identity of the Scout
here, variously quoted as XR633 or XW799. Armed by Alan with the fuselage
numbers for both contenders, I checked out the two plates, one visible through
the lower port side cockpit glazing and the other on the rear bulkhead. The
XW799 nose F8-10208, rear bulkhead
As you can see, the fuselage is clearly
that of XR633, which has a long and mysterious history:-
XR633 Scout AH.1, d/d 21.7.64, to 4 Wg, ditched in Straits of Malacca off Malaysia 7.9.66 after engine failure, fitted with boom of XT625 and to instructional at Middle Wallop as "TAD625", to St George's Barracks, Sutton Coldfield, as "XR777", later "XR625", to Everett Aviation at Sproughton, to Hermeskeil.
The other contender, XW799, became
G-BXSL and was indeed painted in the blue colour scheme favoured by the
Hermeskeil example, however the AIB accident report on its demise on 19.11.01
records that the aircraft was substantially damaged. There are no signs of such
damage on the Hermeskeil machine and it does have hardboard covered seats which
look more appropriate for an instructional airframe than a flyer. However, you
can clearly see how the misidentification has occurred as a door
at least has come from XW799. Anybody seen the hulk of '799 lately?
Spang produced a few more 'heavies'
(C-17As 60006 of 437 AW, 80052, 90169, 00178 of 62 AW, C-5B 60020 437 AW) then
our last stop was at Wengerohr for a rather smart
looking G-91 then back to Hahn for a late return home. Landed at Stansted at
23:30, on the road at 00:30 and back home at 03:30. A good trip and one which
definitely made full use of the time available!
Finally, of course a trip like this
needs good company so thanks must go to the rest of the team, Eric, Ian, John