On May 12-13, 2007, the Helicopter Wing of the Belgian Air Component opened Bierset
military air base to the public for the 8th edition of the Belgian Helidays. MILAVIA Webmaster Niels Hillebrand
Belgian Helidays 2007
The Belgian Defence, with in particular the helicopter wing of the Belgian Air Component, did a
great job organising the 8th edition of the Belgian Helidays. The largest helicopter meeting in
Europe, and probably the largest military helicopter meeting in the world, invited a large number
of helicopters from differenet European air arms and the USA. The Belgian Helidays
were scheduled from May 11 till May 14 with on May 12-13 the public show days. This edition
took place several weeks earlier than normal due to the national elections in June and because
of the wing's recent deployment to Benin.
Bierset military base is located near Liege (Luik) and is co-located with Liege international airport,
home base to the air fleet of logistics company TNT. The military part is home to the Wing Heli
of the Belgian Air Component. Previously it was home to the 3rd Tactical Wing until its disbandment
in 1994. In 1995 Wing Heli moved in then known as 'Groepering Licht Vliegwezen' (Groupment Light Aviation)
of the Belgian Army. Because of defence restructuring, the unit was renamed 'Wing Helikopers' (Helicopter Wing)
in March 2004 and the unit came under command of the Belgian Air Component in July 2004. Currently
the wing consists of a Flight Group, 255 Maintenance Group and a Support Group. The Flight Group has three
operational A-109BA squadrons (16 Sqn MRH, 17 Sqn MRH, 18 Sqn MRH) and one operational conversion
and trainig unit.
The static display consisted of a big line up of all the helicopters, including those that would
participate in the flying display. This meant that those helicopter would take-off and land at
its static location very close to the fence. In addition to the big line-up parrallel to the runway,
there were a few smaller line-ups, one consisting of some resident A-109BA helicopters and one consisting
of the few fixed-wing aircraft present (SF-260, Fouga Magister and F-16) and the Congolese Mi-26 Halo, which
still resides at Bierset since its financially troubled overhaul project.
The most interesting helicopters in the static show were a French SA.321G Super Frelong, USAF Special
Operations MH-53M Pave Low IV, Italian 72nd Stormo Hughes 500E, Slovenian Air Force AS.532AL Cougar and Bell 412SP,
two Danish AS-550 Fennecs of 724 Sqn, Hungarian Air Force Mi-17, and Ireland's old Alouette III and
new AgustaWestland AW-139 of the Irish Air Corps. Finally there was the specially painted
Agusta A109BA of the Heli Wing.
The flying display started at 10:00 AM on both days, with occassional breaks in the program to allow
the cargo Boeing 747s and other civilian jets to land at Liege Airport. The five Eurocopter EC-120s of the Patrulla ASPA from Spain
put on a great performance with impressive formation flights. For me personally the displays by the Czech
Mi-24V and later on the day the Hungarian Mi-24P Hind were the most exciting displays. Apart from sounding
very nice, these machines look so fierceful and almost scary in a high-speed pass with gears retracted.
Other displays included the Swiss Air Force AS.532UL Cougar display, French ALAT SA.341F Gazelle, German
Heeresflieger EC-135, Royal Netherlands Navy SH-14D Lynx, Bölkow BO-105 of the Flying Bulls, several
displays by resident A-109BA helicopters, including a race around a track against a car. There were
also some different displays, such as the Yak-52 and Mr. Moullec and his birds.
Unfortunately not all invited participants could be present or could only be present on one day.
The participation of the Blue Eagles display team from the United Kingdom was unfortunately cancelled.
The Patrulla ASPA left on Saturday after their performance to go to another show.
Despite this and the weather with occasional shower rains, the event was well worth visiting and I truly enjoyed
the show. Normally I prefer fast jets and big formation teams, but it was nice to have a show with just
helicopters to really enjoy this great aeronautical invention.
Enjoy the photos! Because it was my show favourite, I have added many photos of the great Hungarian Mi-24P display!