RNLAF Air Force Days – Luchtmachtdagen 2016

Travelling to Europe during summer for holidays? Why not include a weekend visiting one of the airshows happening across the region? That was what we did this year. We spent 2 weeks in the Netherlands and a great weekend joining thousands at Leeuwarden Airbase in Northern Netherlands for Luchtmachtdagen 2016.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) held their Air Force Day on 10 and 11 June 2016 at Leeuwarden Airbase. In the 2 days, visitors experienced how the RNLAF contributed to peace, freedom and security of the Netherlands and NATO.  The theme of the event is “Operation Air Support”. Operation Air support was devised to show off all aspects of the RNLAF in national and international missions. In addition to the hardware, personnel such as Airmen, Planners, Technicians, Drivers, Doctors and Cooks were represented in multiple static displays and interactive stations.

For visitors to the airshow, access was managed very well with multiple parking sites near Leeuwarden airbase with a parking cost of only €6 per day. Buses were used to ferry people from the parking sites to the entrance of the airbase to avoid congestion in the area. One good decision the organisers made was to do security checks before we are allowed to board the buses. This really made the flow of visitors efficient once we arrived at the base from multiple buses. Alternatively, cyclists and pedestrians were allowed to ride or walk up to the door and park their bicycles nearby. This arrangement really helped to move the 280000 visitors over the 2 days. There was a constant supply of buses taking visitors back to the various parking areas and train station in Leeuwarden. It took us just 30mins from our spot by the side of the runway, out of the gates of the airbase, onto the bus and back to our car. That was a very good experience.

D8E_6527Bag Checks before boarding the bus

IMG_3416Waiting for the gate to open at 0727 on Saturday

IMG_3561Queue for the bus on Saturday after the show

Other amenities such as portable toilets are plentiful and scattered across the whole length of the runway. Many food and drink stations were on site to ensure that visitors do not go hungry. There was a merchandise street where commercial entities set up booths selling aviation related items. Our favorite was the booths of the participating aerial teams where they sold their T-shirts and badges at decent price. A great opportunity for fans of the teams to support them!

At noon each day, spectators were treated to a 20mins spectacle of Air Power Demonstration by the RNLAF. This includes a massive launch of a C-130, 2 F-35s and 10 F-16s. This demo segment shows of the capabilities of the F-16s and F-35s in Air to Ground role. There were many passes by 2 or 4 plane formations simulating ground attack with employment of flares to confuse SAMs. In addition to that, 2 Chinooks and an Apache was also deployed once the airspace was deemed to be “safe”. The Chinooks deployed ground troops and vehicles to take down fugitive criminals and drug laboratories while the Apache attack helicopter supported with advanced heat sensors and ultra-sensitive cameras. At the end of this segment, the crowd was treated by a spectacular formation fly pass of all the participating aircraft and helicopters.

F-35A Leading Fighter FormationF-35A Leading Fighter Formation

After the airpower demonstration on Friday, several commanders of the RNLAF were delivered via Chinooks onto the runway. Following that, we witnessed Lieutenant General Dennis Luyt taking over as the new commander of the Royal Netherlands Air Force in a change of command ceremony.

 Change of Command CeremonyChange of Command Ceremony

The star of the show definitely are the two Dutch F-35s. They were flown from Edwards Air Force Base in the United States on 23 May with stops in between and tanker support by RNLAF KDC-10 Tankers. As this is the first time outside of the United States the F-35 will fly in an airshow, there were great anticipation by the crowd. During the taxiing of both aircraft to the end of the runway in preparation for the Airpower Demonstration, many of the spectators stood up and moved towards the barriers to have a closer look. People stood rooted in their positions during the whole segment of almost 45mins, taking in the sights and sound of this advanced tactical fighter. There was also a mock up version of it like the one we have at Singapore Airshow 2016 for visitors to climb on board and take photos.

 F-35A (F-002) Taxiing for take offF-35A (F-002) Taxiing for take off

Static displays were supported by many aircraft from the RNLAF and visiting countries that were flying, namely F-16A/B/D from RNLAF and Polish Airforce, Eurofighters from the Luftwaffe and all hardware of the RNLAF.

RNLAF F-16AM Fighting FalconRNLAF F-16AM Fighting Falcon

A pair of Luftwaffe EF2000 EurofightersA pair of Luftwaffe EF2000 Eurofighters

Closing the 2 day event was the a final aerial display performed by the Patrouille de France, ending two days of amazing flying and entertainment for visitors young and old. Altogether 280000 visitors attended the event, enjoying the demonstrations in the air and taking many photos with the static displays on the ground. This figure exceeded the 245000 that were present at Luchtmachtdagen 2014.

Finally, the best for the last! Below are photos of every aircraft from the aerial displays. Individual aircraft pages will be posted in the following weeks.


01 - Fokker Four (4 x Fokker S-11 Instructor) Fokker Four (4 x Fokker S-11 Instructor)

02 - North American B-25 MitchellNorth American B-25 Mitchell

03 - Consolidated PBY CatalinaConsolidated PBY Catalina

03 - Black Shape Prime Black Shape Prime

04 - Czech Air Force MI-35 HindCzech Air Force MI-35 Hind

05 - Belgian Air Force Red Devils (4 x Aeromacchi SF-260)Belgian Air Force Red Devils (4 x Aeromacchi SF-260)

06 - North American P-51 MustangNorth American P-51 Mustang

08 - Pilatus PC-7Pilatus PC-7

09 - Turkish Stars (8 x NF-5A/B Freedom Fighter)Turkish Stars (8 x NF-5A/B Freedom Fighter)

10 - Air Power Demo RNLAF F-35A Lightning IIAir Power Demo RNLAF F-35A Lightning II

11 - Air Power Demo RNLAF F-16AM/BM Fighting FalconAir Power Demo RNLAF F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon

13 - Air Power Demo RNLAF CH-47 ChinookAir Power Demo RNLAF CH-47 Chinook

14 - Air Power Demo RNLAF AH-64D ApacheAir Power Demo RNLAF AH-64D Apache

15 - Air Power Demo RNLAF C130Air Power Demo RNLAF C130

16 – AH-64D Apache Demo RNLAFAH-64D Apache Demo RNLAF

17 - Red Arrows (9 x Bae Hawk T1)Red Arrows (9 x Bae Hawk T1)

18 - Belgian Airforce F-16C MLU Fighting FalconBelgian Airforce F-16C MLU Fighting Falcon

19 – Supermarine SpitfireSupermarine Spitfire

20 - Czech Air Force JAS-39 GripenCzech Air Force JAS-39 Gripen

21 – Royal Navy Black Cats (2 x AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2)Royal Navy Black Cats (2 x AgustaWestland Wildcat HMA.2)

22 – Spanish Airforce EF-2000 Eurofighter TyphoonSpanish Airforce EF-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon

23 - Frecce Tricolori (10 x Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN) Frecce Tricolori (10 x Aermacchi MB-339-A/PAN)

24 - Slovakian Air Force MiG-29AS FulcrumSlovakian Air Force MiG-29AS Fulcrum

25 - Martinair Cargo MD-11Martinair Cargo MD-11

26 - Patrouille de France (8 x Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet)Patrouille de France (8 x Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet)

In summary, Luchtmachtdagen 2016 was an incredible experience for us! A fantastic effort by the organisers in planning the smooth running of the whole event. A great job by the Air Traffic Controllers and Aerial Display teams for putting up a flying display that is back to back from 0900 to 1700 each day! Only disappointment was the overcast weather on the second day which was nobody’s fault. Just a note for the organisers, please have an English app next time.

Patrouillie de France finalePatrouillie de France finale

About MAphotoSG
MAphotoSG (Military Aviation Photography Singapore) was founded by Raymond and David in 2015, and currently consists of a group of passionate volunteer local aircraft spotters that share the common interest of aviation photography. Core activities include the coverage of aviation events and aircraft spotting, both local and overseas.

Some of the key significant events captured by the group include the Exclusive Preview of the RSAF at Singapore Airshow 2016, the first sighting of 142 Squadron’s F-15SGs and the F/A-18Ds of Exercise Commando Sling 16-2. The group was also featured in a pre-Singapore Airshow 2016 article published by the local compact, TODAY.

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