Koksijde is a Belgian Air Component base, operating Search and Rescue helicopters just along the coast from Calais and their airshow was promoted as Belgium’s biggest show since 1964, and one of the biggest airshows of the 2011 European season.
Over 70,000 spectators descended on the 2 day mid-week show with a line up that read like a ‘whos-who’ of display teams, including our own Red Arrows, the Saudi Hawks, the French Patrouille de France, Turkish Stars, Polish Team Izkry, Spanish Patrulla Aguila, USAF Thunderbirds and Red Devils from home country Belgium and so the list continued…
As a complete contrast, there were a few vintage jets and light aircraft, including our own GliderFX display. We opened both days with a banner tow; “WELCOME TO KOKSIJDE AIRSHOW 2011”, that we towed around the airbase for the public in the carparks as well as the display line. A youtube video of Thursday’s banner is here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgz5_RhZn8Y
Wednesday’s display was programmed to run until 22:00pm with a “sunset” show, but with cloudless skies the sun was still visible above the horizon for our wingtip pyrotechnics to have maximum effect. Ian Gallacher flew the Fox and Paul Moslin the Pawnee, followed by the Belgian F16 with flares to close the show.
Guy Westgate flew the Fox on the second day for our more traditional roll-on-tow display and then braved the summer storms on the way back home with Ian and Paul flying the Pawnee, diverting into Thurrock to avoid some persistent rain around London.
Despite the number of high quality teams, the real highlights of the show were a few unique formations, particularly the Belgian Defence Airbus A330-300 with F16 fighter escort, Hercules and DC3 transports and F16 and Spitfire to commemorate 65 years of the Belgian Airforce.
Huge thanks must go to ‘Jaak’ Alexander Vermeire for assistance, Paul Johnson for transporting our smoke oil and banner to Belgium by road, to Paul and Gally for preparing the banner and the long aerotows to the show and lastly to Thurrock for the welcome and hospitality.