From the 10th-13th September, the Sanicole airshow in Belgium has once again taken place after a break of one year. Parallel to the airshow, the Spottersday at Kleine Brogel Air Base is held. The main airshow in Sanicole, where the participants fly their displays, is held at a military training area which only consists of meadow. Due to this, the airshow participants have to take off at Kleine Brogel. The Belgian Air Component team at Kleine Brogel Air Base use this opportunity to put together a great program with an incredible static display, especially for us photographers.
One day before the show started, on Thursday the 9th of September, there were several auxiliary flights from the Polish Air Force and the Czech Air Force, delivering supplements for demo teams of their respective countries. The Polish Air Force sent two CASA 295, 013 and 020, for their F-16 demo team. The Czech Air Force sent a newer “CASA 295” which is already rebranded as Airbus C295MW. Airbus overtook the production of CASA airplanes in 1999. Airbus also modernised the CASA product line as they equipped them with winglets.
A walk along the static display
The static display this year was filled with impressive aircraft, starting with the special painted C-130H of the Belgian Air Force, which celebrates 50 years of C-130 service. The airframe will be retired by the end of 2021, as the Belgian Air Force slowly phases out the C-130´s and replaces them with the newer Airbus A400M.
Furthermore, the Belgian Air Force set their special painted F-16 called “Dark Falcon” on static display. The plane is flown by the famous pilot Stefan “Vador” Darte. He also closed the show at Sanicole in the evening with a spectacular display – definitely an eyecatching performance at every airshow.
Walking down the flightline, there were several countries presenting their awesome “Tiger” liveries.
The German Air Force sent its special painted EF2000 31+01, which is arguably the most beautiful of all NATO Tiger liveries. The Germans also sent two of their Panavia Tornadoes with a loadout bearing the Tiger motto. An eyecatcher for the smaller guests was the plush tiger in the cockpit of the Tornado.
The flying displays
The first movement was this Mil Mi-35M Hind of the Czech Air Force. The Mi-35 is the newest version of the Mil Mi-24 Hind with modernised avionics and a four blade tail rotor, significantly reducing the noise signature.
Jets & more
In the following hours, a few F-16s took off, including the Polish Air Force Tiger Demo Team. The pilot performed a beautiful bank to the left exactly in front of us after returning from his display over Sanicole.
After the Polish F-16 returned, a four-ship of Belgian F-16s took off with full afterburner. Each of the F-16s departed one by one and did wide banking turns to the right showing off the massive General Electric F110 at full afterburner.
The next highlight was the French Navy Grumman E-2C Hawkeye. This was also most likely the rarest plane on the whole airshow, as the French Navy is the only operator of the E-2 on the European continent. Furthermore, the French Navy is the only country operating this plane from aircraft carriers besides of the USA.
Besides the fighter jets, there were some older warbirds flying around. The most interesting one was this Dutch B-25 Mitchell, kept airworthy by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). The two Wright Cyclone radial engines produce a great sound experience; you truly hear the combined 3200hp. Furthermore, a really nice visitor was the T-6 Texan, which is registered in Belgium.
The airshow also featured a few smaller aerobatic squadrons, such as the Red Devils with their SIAI Marchetti SF-260 aircraft. Some bigger aerobatic squadrons had also flown in for the airshow. Of these larger squadrons, the first cab off the rank was the Red Arrows, who took off in three-ship formations.
The second large aerobatic team was the world-famous Patrouille Suisse. The team consists of nine Northrop F-5 jets and represents the Swiss Air Force at airshows all over the world. During the takeoff, there was a heavy rain shower. But when they arrived again, the rain was over and the F-5s taxied along the visitors one by one.
With the arrival of the Patrouille Suisse, the whole airshow came to an end. Although the weather was not good at all, it was a great day with many nice and rare planes. See ya next year KeeBee!