Volkel AB Airshow 2007: a challenge for the organization and participants

On 15 and 16 june 2007, the open days of the Royal Netherlands Air Force were held at Volkel AB. This year’s edition drew an enormous number of visitors to the airbase. No less than 240.000 people visited the airshow. 80.000 on Friday and approximately 160.000 on Saturday.

Variety of aircraft
Although the number of aircraft was not as high as in the past few airshows, the organization still managed to display a great variety of aircraft. From old to new. The combined flight-line/static gave the audience the opportunity to not only see static parked aircraft, but also watch ground action prior to and after the flying displays. A few eye catchers were the Polish Sukhoi SU-22, a P-3C Orion from the U.S. Navy, a Greek F-16D and two Super Etendards from the French Navy.

The airshow consisted of solo performances of, amongst others, Hawker Hunters, French Rafales, a Hungarian Gripen, a Swiss and a Spanish F-18, a Dutch and Belgian F-16, and a spectacular RAF CH-47 Chinook performance. Team Breitling, the Swiss PC-7 team, Patrouille de France and, for the very first team in the Netherlands, the Turkish Stars with their former Dutch NF-5 aircraft, were the demo teams present.

Not everything went spotless
The organization had to deal with some “non-standard” situations this year. The one with the largest impact was at the beginning of the airpower demo on Friday. 16 F-16s and 6 helicopters would perform a spectacular base-attack. Unfortunately, the first F-16 that departed suffered a heavy bird strike causing him to drop off his external fuel tanks nearby and return to base as soon as possible. All the other F-16s, that were already waiting to take off, returned to the shelters and the airpower demo was cancelled. On Saturday however the demo did take place.

A few other items for the organization were two L-39’s from team Breitling getting off the taxi-track, the Belgian F-16 that got technical problems during its solo performance on Saturday and who had to cut-off the show, and Patrouille de France that also had to cut-off their demonstration due to a suddenly approaching rainstorm.  

The Buff that didn’t come
On Saturday NATO airbase Geilenkirchen also hosted an airshow. One of their main attractions was a B-52 from Barksdale AFB. On Friday, this B-52 was on its way to Geilenkirchen, and when the B-52 entered Dutch airspace, the Dutch traffic control asked the crew if they would be willing to do a low flyby over Volkel. The crew was positive, but unfortunately the organization was not able to make some last moment changes in the display schedule giving the Buff a few minutes for a flyby that undoubtedly would have been THE highlight of this years’ show.