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History of the Sikomeet and the SAR Crew Meet

At the beginning of the 21st Century, three former heli pilots of Koksijde Air Base had the wonderful idea to start a yearly reunion of  former air crew who had flown the Sikorsky helicopter in the Belgian Air Force or the Belgian Navy. The three pilots who took this initiative were Gabriel Christiaen, Eddy De Landtsheer and Leon Dhynes. The idea was to come together for a drink and a chat at Koksijde Air Base and have lunch over there as well. The first Sikomeet was held in 2001 and was held 15 times, see photographs on this page. On a few occasions, the lunch was off base at the famous Hotelschool Ter Duinen, also located in Koksijde.

Some time later, Mike Debart took over from Leon as one of the board members. A few years ago, Marc Gyssels took over from Mike. Finally, in the course of 2017, Gabriel asked me (Philip Avonds) if I was interested in taking over his duties as the main coordinator. I was honoured to accept this job knowing it would be a lot of work. If you'd like to know more about my Belgian Air Force career, you can find an overview here.

Sadly, over the years, some people took off for their final flight to heaven, so the number of Siko crews grew smaller and smaller until with the advent of the NH-90 Cayman as a replacement for the Westland Sea King, it was decided to open up the subsequent meets to all retired Search and Rescue air crews having flown either Sikorsky, Alouette III, Sea King or NH-90 NFH (more info here). As such, the first SAR Crew Meet was held in 2016. The second meet was held in 2017 and attracted a total of 41 participants. The third meet was held in 2018 and attracted 49 participants. The fourth meet was held in 2019 and attracted 45 participants. The last meet was scheduled for April 2nd, 2020, but Covid ruined the party... Since then, no more meets have been organised.

I was the person in charge from 2018 till 2022 to keep the contact list and the website up to date and to organise the yearly gathering in Koksijde. I decided to retire from this task at the end of 2022, so now, we are awaiting a candidate to take over that task. Candidates, please contact Philip.

Last coordinator: Philip Avonds (looking for candidates to take over the task)

Board members: Eddy De Landtsheer and Marc Gyssels.

e-mail: info@avonds.com

Up to date: April 8th, 2023

Website sponsored by Philip Avonds