Leeuwarden Airbase, 22nd of April 2009

Report and photos by Stacey Kort-

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Back again at Leeuwarden! This time for the annual "Frisian Flag" exercise, which is held at Leeuwarden Airbase. Goal of Frisian Flag is accomplishing a variety of missions with internation cooperation using the latest tactics and technologies. Eventhough a lot of the invited squadrons couldn't participate, such as the Polish Vipers, it was still interesting enough for us to pay a visit to Leeuwarden.

Bert van Veldhuizen, the person with whom I travelled to Leeuwarden picked me up at 06:00, just to be sure we wouldn't miss anything. While underway it became clear that there was some fog and several low hanging clouds, so we hoped that it would clear before we would see any activity. The fog went away, but the clouds were still there, just like a strong north-eastern wind which made our lenses sway left and right. We weren't sure which runway would be in use, so we went to Marssum, which is at the beginning of runway 06. After a while the first aircraft started up, and were cleared to use any runway they requested. They opted to go for the 06, which meant that the aircraft took off away from us. While the aircraft performed their last checks, the clouds still didn't clear so we had some issues with the lighting. Heathaze also killed a lot of our shots. But this was al made up by the amount of aircraft which took to the skies.



After about one and a halve hours the first aircraft returned to Leeuwarden, and not long after the skies over Leeuwarden quickly started filling up with aircraft entering the pattern. Kudos to the air traffic control which kept all the aircraft in a safe distance from eachother! The most special formation was that of a mixed F-15 and F-16 flight coming in for initials. Not only did the wind prove to be tricky for the photographers, several pilots really had to fight the crosswind. Luckily they all made it back in one piece, only to be sent up some hours later.



Bert and I decided to go to Jelsum for the departures of the second wave. We didn't know if this would be a good spot for departures, because last time I was at Leeuwarden, runway 24 was in use and now the 06 was in use. We decided to give it a go. But it turned out that it wasn't really a good spot, because you really face the underside of the aircraft. Oh well, lesson learned we shall say! We returned to Marssum once again, but arriving there it became evident that a lot more people turned up to see the aircraft. But we were still able to go to the part of the hill where we stood earlier.


When we got to that spot, luck would have it that the first aircraft reported to be five minutes out. Again the skies over Leeuwarden quickly filled up, but I only had two gigs left so I had to ease of the shutterrelease. This proved to be a tad difficult, because now the jets were coming in with more interesting angles because of the crosswind. Just like earlier that day all the jets were able to touchdown safely. Nothing more was expected that day, so Bert and I decided to return back home after a great day at Leeuwarden Airbase during Frisian Flag 2009!