The Dutch airshow of Volkel in de Wolken (Volkel in the Clouds) has always courted some drama for our team, and 2012 followed the tradition. Ian Gallacher positioned the Pawnee from Shennington to Halton, but then his Saturday morning departure was delayed by the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee flypast with a formation of 87 military aircraft passing over Windsor, spelling out ‘EIIR’ and ‘60’. Large chunks of airspace were blocked off around London to protect the participating squadrons, but the delay did mean an improvement in the weather, with the morning cloud lifting after the curfew, and blue skies for the trip to Calais for a customs stop, where Ian joined Guy Westgate and Pete Wells in the SWIP Team Twisters.
Volkel is home to one of the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s biggest F16 bases, but as the base is active on the Saturday, we had to transit to Goch Asperden on the Germany boarder, where the club members had cleared the hangar for our planes.
We were joined later in the evening by the ‘A’ Team – Paul Holdnall and Michel Carnet, who had driven the Fox glider out .
Dutch airshows are similar to many in UK with a spread of local teams, military jets and aerobatic aircraft, but the 2012 lineup at Volkel was particularly impressive with the flying list reading like the ‘who’s who’ of aerobatic legends, including Frank Versteegh (E300), Nicolas Ivanoff (EDGE540), Mark Jefferies (E330) and Gerald Cooper (Sbach).
This year we had prepared our longest banner to date: “VOLKEL IN DE WOLKEN WELCOMES HAMILTON” 37 x 5ft charters. However, the local police dug up a bye-law that banner towing is not permitted in Holland at weekends, so with 30mins to lift off, the banner was cancelled! (We subsequently flew it back at home to see how it looked and for the benefit of Hamilton, the Airshow’s new sponsor.)
The glider display went without a hitch, and Michel Carnet performed his first paramotor display with us, starting with a stunning spiral into his display, and finishing with a 150m colored ribbon.
The weather was surprisingly good for the display, but a thundery low-pressure system blocked Ian’sattempts to get the Pawnee back home, and after visiting Ursel and Moorsele in worsening conditions, he admitted defeat and called up the ‘A’ Team for a ride back home.
We would like to thank display director Hans van der Werf and deputy Wout Peterse for inviting us to the 24th airshow at Volkel, and we look forward to the party at the 25th show next year! Also to the guys at Moorsele for helping with the recovery of our Pawnee in the week – thank you.
Hero of the weekend award must go to Paul Holdnall who drove over 1000 miles to support the display in stressful circumstances, as he had to endure Michel arguing with the car’s TomTom satnav all the way across 3 countries – and back!