MILAVIA > Air Shows > APCK Fly-In / Photo Flying Days Fly-In 2012 Last updated: 27 November 2012
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Fly-In Photo Report : APCK Fly-In / Photo Flying Days Fly-In 2012

APCK Fly-In / Photo Flying Days Fly-In 2012 - Zoersel-Oostmalle, Belgium

On August 17-19, 2012, the Fly-In of the Aero Para Club der Kempen (APCK) and Photo Flying Days Academy took place at Zoersel.
Ramon van Opdorp visited the event on Saturday to photograph the warbirds and other classic aircraft flying in.

"Old Timer" Fly-In at Zoersel

What started a couple of years ago during the annual "Chipmeet" at Airfield Malle, the former NATO reserve field Zoersel-Oostmalle, has now become an event that can be added to your airshow agenda. During the Chipmeets in 2008 and 2009 almost all invited aircraft were naturally Chipmunks, with an occasional Boeing Stearman or SV4 Stampe.
However, in 2010 the Chipmeet was combined with a completely new photography format in Europe, called the Photo Flying Days Academy founded by photographer Eric Coeckelberghs. The idea was: Wouldn't it be great to photograph all these aircraft participating in the Chipmeet in the air from the back of another aircraft, and also invite some special aircraft to photograph in the same way. Of course in return for a substantial fee, the format will give you (at least for most people) an once-in-a-lifetime experience. This idea has now grown into a professional international event for aviation photographers, doubling as a big fly-in for the Aero Para Club der Kempen (APCK) open to the general public, and I would describe it as Old Timer Fly-in.

Just like years before at the Chipmeet, Chipmunks were present again
Another DHC-1 Chipmunk,
Zoersel regular: Stampe S.V.4
...and the Boeing Stearman

Photography

I have never participated in the Photo Flying Days Academy, therefore this article is not a review of that option which the event offers for photographers. However I can tell you that two of my colleague photographers have, and they experienced the rides of their lifetime. Getting photographs you can cherish for the rest of your life, with lay-out and angles that you before only saw in photos made by professional photographers in the bigger glossy magazines.

I have always enjoyed visiting this event, this was my third time just as someone of the general public, because the aircraft can be photographed from all positions while static and taxiing. With just a 70-200 lens you can cover all static and taxi shots. All photographs can be taken in a very natural environment, with dense trees in the background and heath land all over the place. There are no cars, persons, bouncy castles, or fences that can ruin the photographs. These photographs in this natural environment are in my opinion fairly unique, as almost 99% of all airshows and fly-in events have one or more of the above mentioned obstructions or distractions in the background. Plus it's always nice to see the interaction between the pilots and aircraft, like for example the charismatic Charlie Brown, pilot of the rare Spitfire Mk.Vb. This combined with a fair amount of warbirds and/or classic aircraft makes this Fly-In a unique event around here. Some events in the United States have a similar outlay of the static display grounds, but I can't think of one in western Europe.

There are however some (minor) downsides for me to fly-ins and this event/location in particular. As with most fly-in events there is no announced fixed schedule for participants. There are also no demos, if we're lucky the pilots will make a couple of fly-by's, and if really lucky a low-level flypast. Taking photographs of the aircraft landing and/or taking off is almost impossible, because of the backlight during the best part of the day. Besides this, the runway is too distant for descent photographs of landings and during take-off planes disappear behind the trees. These are however points you can know in advance, and therefore they are no big obstacle for me. Because the quality of the photographs is the leading factor for me, I'm not too bothered about being unable to take "long shots" of the participants.

Previous years there was no entrance fee, or only 5 Euro to go freely shooting photos between the participating aircraft for a whole day. For the first time this year, the entrance fee was 10 Euro for the general public with no extras. The 10 Euros for just witnessing a fly-in seems expensive, however, in my opinion it's cheap compared to other events which can be compared to this one.

The natural beauty of the airfield perfectly fits the old aircraft.
No obstructions even when shooting this Beech Staggerwing with range
Spitfire Mk.Vb with pilot Charlie Brown
Although just a fly-in and not an airshow, this Yak-52 decided some smoke was needed.
Another shot that shows no distractions from the subject of the photo.
Only the DC-3 Dakota was big enough to photograph while landing, but note the backlight issue

Participating Aircraft

As in previous years, and this year even more so, some very rare and interesting aircraft made their appearance during this event. Main headliner for this event was the very rare Lockheed Constellation owned by the Swiss based "Super Constellation Flyers Association". This absolute stunner of an airliner sadly had to cancel due to returning engine trouble at the last minute. In light of this cancellation, another interesting aircraft was sent by the same organisation: a DC-3 Dakota, that was built in 1940 and previously owned by many US based airliners.

The immaculate looking DC-3 Dakota replaced the cancelled Constellation
Another shot of the DC-3 Dakota
The surroundings are almost as enjoyable as the Beech Staggerwing itself
Vought F4U Corsair
Fokker S.11
Fokker S.11
Cessna 195

The line-up of participants presented a large diversity in aircraft, from small general aviation aircraft like current Pipers and Cessna's, to the older general aviation aircraft. The line-up is diverse to serve not only the general public, but also the photographers that signed up for the photo flight academy. For me personally, the fair amount of warbirds makes it worth the drive every time. Especially this year's line-up was one that would make every other organiser of old-timer air shows drool; with the P-51 Mustang, Hawker Hurricane, Spitfire Mk.Vb, F4U Corsair, Beech 18, Beech Staggerwing, Stampe SV4, Boeing Stearman, T-28 Trojan and the list goes on. This list was making my day, but two aircraft in particular made my day even better. Not one, but two beautifully restored Grumman TBM Avengers made their first appearance during this event, see inset.

North American P-51D Mustang
Hawker Hurricane
Supermarine Spitfire Mk.Vb
Vought F4U Corsair
Beech 18
The other Stampe S.V.4C present
North American T-28 Trojan
Yakovlev 18

Conclusion

This Fly-In at Airfield Malle had aircraft for almost everyone's interest, looking from a general public point of view. Whether you like helicopters, general aviation, or warbirds as I do, there was something for everyone, although naturally not so much for the strictly military or fast-jet only people. This year especially the number of golden oldie birds was very high, which was in my favour. Also taking in account the relaxed atmosphere and unique photography opportunities, this made this Fly-in a more popular and an even bigger event for the public than before.

Nov. 2012 Update:
Next edition of the PhotoFlying Days will not take place at Zoersel-Malle, visit www.photoflyingdays.com for more info.
Next edition of the AeroClub's Fly-in at Zoersel-Malle itself is not yet announced, visit www.ebzr.be for update.

TBM Avengers

TBM-3E Avenger wings folded
TBM-3E Avenger unfolding wings
TBM-3E Avenger engine run
TBM-3E Avenger F-AZJA

This beautiful TBM-3E Avenger "F-AZJA" was built in 1945, and served in the United States with the VMTB-454 and VMTB-463, followed by FASRON 11 as modified TBM-3R version. Shortly after, she was struck of charge, and started her career as a water bomber, fighting fires for some time. Then after some private owners, she was bought by the French Association des Mecaniciens Pilotes d'Aeronefs Anciens, or in short l'AMPAA in 1989. Seeing this massive beast of +/- 5000 Kg starting her massive Wright Cyclone 14 cylinder engine with a whopping 1900 Horsepower, makes you tremble on your feet.

TBM-3E Avenger front view
TBM-3E Avenger 'Charlie's Heavy'
Previously a TBM-3R, now restored as TBM-3E

The other beast present was the TBM-3E Avenger "HB-RDG" owned by Trachsel Charles from Switzerland. I have seen her before in 2008 at the La-Ferte air show in France, however back then in the shape of a TBM-3R, wearing the paint scheme of "53319/RB-19 - Charlie's Heavy", which was an Avenger assigned to VR-22 as a carrier transport aircraft. Her appearance changed in the meantime, and although still carrying the name "Charlie's Heavy", is now a TBM-3E in the colours of VMTB-132 as operated from the USS Cape Gloucester in 1945. Compared to earlier years flying as a TBM-3R, the main difference of the TBM-3E is the big round gun turret that is now installed in the back of aircraft.

Report and photos by Ramon van Opdorp ( view portfolio )