The Belgian Air Cadets are fifty!

 

On Sunday 26th November, at Beauvechain air base, Major General Gérard Van Caelenberge, Commanding Officer of the Belgian Air Component and retired Lieutenant General Guido Van Hecke, President of The Belgian Air Cadets association have presented Glider pilot Wings to 75 Aspirants (66 boys and 9 girls) of the promotion 2006. This means that they are now fully entitled as Flight Cadets.

The Ministry of Defence award was handed to Air Cadets Bastien Vandenbroucke and Tom De Smedt for their dedication to the association activities, their flying skills and their outstanding group spirit. The President of the Executive Committee award for the best Officer Cadets was handed to Nick Van de Winckel for his general performance and spirit during his cadet training. Also awarded, with the Belgian Air Cadets President's prize, was glider instructor pilot Mr Denis Loriers.

Major General Gérard Van Caelenberge, Commanding Officer of the Belgian Air Component and retired Lieutenant General Guido Van Hecke, President of The Belgian Air Cadets association are presenting the Glider Pilot Wings to the new Flight Cadets.

The Belgian Air Cadets association counts currently about 500 members among 300 cadets and 200 people of the training and support staff. Every year the association welcomes 75  new selected young people of both sexes or Aspirants, aged of 15 and 16 years old, and allows them to follow a three-four years training of gliding. At the end of this period about 40 of the Flight Cadets are entitled Senior Air Cadets and are allowed to participate at the association's activities until they are 21 years old.

This year traditional cadet's Wing ceremony was also of particular importance as, in the framework of the fifties anniversary of its establishment on January 14th, 1956, the association was presented, on last July 21st, a Royal Brevet (dated of May 18th, 2006) and will therefore change its name in 2007 into: Association Royale les Cadets de l'Air de Belgique, De Koninklijke Belgische Luchtcadetten, The Royal Belgian Air Cadets.
For this occasion the Belgian Air Cadets had invited all its current and old staff members.


AMS-Flight DG-505 Elan ORION 17/20 glider PL-43 in the interesting static display.

A photographic exhibition featured a pictorial illustration of the Belgian Air Cadets activities since their founding, as an experimental youth movement under the auspices of the Belgian Air Force in 1952, their official establishment as civil association in 1956, until the present time. Among a handful of aircraft and gliders (see BAHA Forum), the static display of this event presented what can be considered as one of the oldest glider ever used by the Air Cadets: a SG-38 Schulgleiter. This particular aircraft, serial PL-21 (c/n 002/55), was purchased in 1955 by the Belgian Air Force through its Club Militaire de Vol à Voile at Butzweilerhof (D) in order to establish recreational gliding clubs on the air bases. It was flown by the Air Cadets in the Gliding Flights of Chièvres and Beauvechain until its withdrawal from use in the early sixties. Transferred to the Brussels Royal Army Museum/Aeronautical Department storage at the end of its flying career, this glider was carefully restored to static display status at Goetsenhoven air base in 2006 by 1 CplC Chef Dirk Van Androye. Once upon a time homebase of the Belgian Air Force Elementary Flying School, Goetsenhoven air base houses currently the Belgian Air Cadets HQ as well as the Militair Centrum voor Zweefvliegen/Centre Militaire de Vol à Voile  (MCVZ/CMVV) or Military Gliding Center. This last unit, subordinate to the 1 Wing of Beauvechain, is the operator of the five Piper L-21B Super Cub tow aircraft of the Air Component and has as mission the support to the Air Cadets flying activities, including the maintenance of their glider fleet.


 

Also present in the small static show were some magnificent cold -war relics such as Lockheed F-104G FX-47 and Dassault Mirage VBR BR10 on which many former Air Cadets continued their carreers with the Belgian Air Force.
 

THEN

SG38 PL-21 one of first Belgian Air Cadets fliders taking of at Beauvechain in 1959.

NOW

The same glider pictured at Goetsenhoven on 12 December 2006 - perfectly restored by Dirk Van Androye.

The man responsible for this magnhificent restoration, Dirk Van Androye

More pictures & information on the current Belgian Air Cadets fleet on Belgian WIngs.

 

Vincent Pirard - ©AviaScribe (December 2006)

Last updated 15/03/11 06:46   Daniel Brackx

daniel.brackx@telenet.be