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My Belgian Air Force career

a photo tour narrated by Philip Avonds

I have also compiled a few pilot stories from my career. These can be read here.

Pilot training

18 October 1976: my first day in the Air Force
I'm the fifth from the left...
Elementary Pilot Training on Siai Marchetti SF-260
125 flying hours / first solo flight: May 5th, 1977 with ST-09
Advanced Pilot Training on Fouga Magister CM-170 in 1978
also later 1982-1984 and 2003
150 flying hours / first solo flight: February 28th, 1978 with MT-16
(anecdotic note: I made 4 flights with tailnumber MT-48, the subject of my scale Fouga Magister model)
Graduation on Lockheed T-33A
90 flying hours / first solo flight: September 19th, 1978 with FT-36
I receive my Air Force pilot wings March 1st, 1979.


76B promotion at wings parade March 1st, 1979. This was also the day of the official presentation of the Belgian Air  Force Alpha Jet (seen at the back)
44 years later and the hangar of our wings parade can still be found on the Brustem airfield (near Sint-Truiden)


Flying fast jets: my little boys' dream!

After pilot training, I was very happy to be assigned to Kleine Brogel to start my operational pilot career on the Lockheed F-104G Starfighter.


Back to the parking place after my first solo on TF-104G (tail number FC-08)...

...doing the shutdown checks...

...and receiving congratulations from the F-104 instructor pilots, from left to right: Swa Aerts, Marc Van Huysse and Tony Muls

May 22nd, 1979

Note that the first solo was performed in a TF-104G with empty back seat. The reason was that there was a slight difference in "feel" between singleseater and twoseater (due to the CG being more forward on the singleseater). My first singleseater flight was performed the next day.
After the traditional "shower" from the fire truck, posing in front of the aircraft and drinking a well deserved beer together with my chase pilot Armand Van Reydt

Some 40 years later, I find my first solo aircraft on display at the open air museum of Savigny (France)...
First operational tour: 31 "Tiger" Squadron in Kleine Brogel
Lockheed F-104G Starfighter
645 flying hours
CO Alex Peelaers congratulates me after my first solo on F-16A (tail number FA-61)

July 8th, 1983

Second operational tour: 31 "Tiger" Squadron in Kleine Brogel
General Dynamics F-16A
160 flying hours


Helicopters: a whole new ballgame

Unfortunately, medical reasons brought my fighter pilot career to a halt. I had to choose  between transport or helicopter. The latter became my choice for the simple reason that the location would give me better aeromodelling opportunities...


Initial helicopter training on Sikorsky HSS-1
From the most modern jet in the inventory to the oldest aircraft...
40 Squadron Search and Rescue (SAR)
75 flying hours / first "solo" flight: November 14th, 1984
Westland Sea King SAR helicopter
3200 flying hours / first "solo" flight: March 18th, 1985
The only time I didn't land with the airplane I took off with...
AFF jump from a Sea King above Koksijde


Farewell party and last flight 22-24 October 2003

Tour through the city of Koksijde with the squadron fellows...
...and lots of smoke and flares!
Photo session before the last flight.
One more flypast...

...and my last landing as a Belgian Air Force pilot!

(anecdotic note: the same day and at about the same time, the last official Concorde flight was landing at London Heathrow...)

A well deserved beer at the conclusion of my Air Force career
presented by CO Erwin Deolet
Many years later: nostalgic ride in an SV-4b in 2014, read more


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Philip Avonds Scale Jets

Doornhofstraat 6
B-8670 Koksijde
Phone: +32-58-514451