Sanicole Air Show from a different angle


The Sanicole Air Show attracted around 25,000 spectators for its 2008 edition on July 20th.  Modern and vintage aircraft, large and small, military and civilian, flying solo or in formation, they were all there that Sunday. The large safety distances between public and aircraft at air shows, however, form a great drawback for aviation photographers. That is why quite a lot of dyed-in-the-wool spotters watched the Sanicole Air Show from a different angle and a different spot: Kleine-Brogel Air Base. As most of the military aircraft and fast jet participants operated from the air base, it was a good alternative, especially for those less attracted by the show aspect of the flying.



At Sanicole Aero Club itself, the Red Arrows could only be photographed in large formations or during hair-raising high-speed crossings. At Kleine-Brogel Air Base, on the other hand, they present themselves one by one at a much lower landing speed. This year, the British Aerospace Hawk T.1 jets of the Royal Air Force aerobatic team underwent a first “major” change in colour scheme since long. The Royal Air Force titles were added to underline the service’s 90th anniversary this year.

Another fast jet aerobatic team performing at Sanicole was Jacques Bothelin’s Breitling Jet Team. It is a civil team, but most of its members are former jet pilots of the French Air Force. The team is flying a military jet trainer, the Czech-built Aero L.39 Albatros, which received a new colour scheme for the new display season.

 A rare view at Kleine-Brogel Air Base was Jetairfly’s Boeing 737-8K5 OO-JBG (c/n 35142). The airline baptised its latest acquisition “Gerard Brackx”, after the Belgian founder of tour operator Jetair in 1971.

Among the vintage participants was the Duke of Brabant Air Force North American TB-25N Mitchell N320SQ. The aircraft is painted in the colours of the World War II era No. 320 Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service and carries serial number 232511/N5-149.

JAS 39C Gripen 9245 (c/n 39-245) is one of 12 of the type the Czech Air Force has on lease, together with a pair of JAS 39D two-seaters. It is based at Čáslav with No. 211 Tiger Squadron.


 F-16AM FA-87AM in 2006 NATO Tiger Meet livery led the four-ship Tiger Formation, also comprising FA-95, FA-103 and FA-104. If you wondered why the upper side of the F-16 is camouflaged in dark grey and the lower side in light grey, I guess you know now.


Judging by the canopy, the gremlin that terrorised the engine of Spanish Air Force Mirage F-1M 14-13/C.14-20 on Friday wet his pants during the display at Sanicole. A pilot’s revenge?


What you will never see at Sanicole during the air show are the display teams’ support aircraft, like Antonov An-26 2409 (c/n 12409) that came to Kleine-Brogel on Sunday to pick up support equipment and personnel for the Czech Air Force ALCA and Gripen display aircraft. The Curl is based at Prague-Kbely with No. 241 Transport Squadron.


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© Jos Schoofs (July 2008)

Last updated 16/03/12 09:22   Daniel Brackx