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In Belgium, on the 21st of July, we celebrate our independence day. Traditionally there are a number of big festivities throughout the country in which our defense plays a prominent role. Famous of course is the 'National Defilé' in Brussels, a big military parade presenting the best of our defense forces. The most exciting part is off course up in the sky, as for a small country the Belgian Air Force really presents an impressive flyby of their assets, each year. The air parade is opened by six Alpha Jets trailing colored smoke over the capital, red, yellow and black. As many aircraft are airborne at the same time, it's a great opportunity to organize some photo sessions. I was lucky enough to fly in Hercules number three, acting as photo platform after the parade.
But I was unlucky enough – yes, it's a true classic – with the weather, and it was uncertain until the last moment if the photo flight was going ahead. Not a glimpse of sun and a hazy overcast sky, but it was decided that the planned shootings could take place. We got to see two of the real workhorses of the Belgian Air Force, the C-130 Hercules. The pilots really performed some fantastic formation flying for us! Also based at Melsbroek (our military airport, part of Brussels Airport) are the VIP aircraft and one of the Embraers put up a very nice private display!
From Florennes airbase two F-16's stayed with us for some time, to capture them in some very cool angles! Too bad the weather was really....euh bad...but even under these conditions the F-16 still looks, after 30 years of service, as a sweet hot piece of heavy metal. The brownish smoke in the two last pictures are not from the F-16's, but from our C-130 photo platform.
Our many thanks goes to Col. Peter 'Patja' Stams and IPR for inviting me onboard the Hercules. Let's hope in 2011 we'll have some steel blue skies during the national holiday!

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