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 Where? Volkel - Netherlands
When? 18-19/06/2004

This year's Open Doors of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) were dominated by the 25th anniversary of the introduction of the F-16 Fighting Falcon to the Royal Air Force. To celebrate this event an F-16 was painted in the red-white-blue, thus imitating the colourscheme of the very first F-16 prototype. This special coloured bird awaited the crowed at one of the two main entrances.

Then followed a line-up of 8 different other F-16s, including an F-16B of the RNLAF Flight Test Center and 2 F-16s from Italy.

 The static display

 These two were the highlight for most of the spotters, besidesthe two Sea Harriers in the static display and the 'Open Skies' An-30 from Bulgaria. The rest of the static display was filled with a nice selection of modern jets and old planes. Nice to see were a SAR Sea King from Belgium in its green/brown-camouflage and a British Nimrod as well as the Italian ECR Tornado with its shark mouth. And the special coloured Italian AMX and the British Tornado GR4 have to be mentioned as well, of course.
Most of the elder aircraft like the old Fokkers, the P-51 or the B-25 of the RNLAF Historic Flight took part in the flight display as well, so always something was going on in front of the spectators and in the air as well. Unfortunately a display of the Dutch Connie was planned as well but had to be cancelled due to engine problems.

The Flight Display

 The flight display was dominated by the dutch aircraft with solo demos by the PC-7, the Apache, the Hercules and, of course, the F-16. As a special surprise and for the only time this year the 'Teamwork'-F-16 realeased flares for the pleasure of the crowd. Most impressive was the Airpower Demonstration with a thundering airfield attack by 8 F-16s for the start. Afterwards followed support troops by helicopter and transport aircraft.
Further solo demos came from the UK with the very colourful Sea Harrier and the Tornado GR4. Another Tornado, this time an IDS of the German Navy, performed also very well. But the best act by far were the Swiss. The take-off of the PC-7 Team was followed by a low take-off of the F-18 Hornet which then joined the PC-7-Team and started its really excellent and very 'digital' demo with an impressive formation fly-by!
Demo teams were present as well. The newly formed breitling Apache team with their L-39 Albatrosses could of course not compete with the action of the Frecce Tricolori or the Red Arrows, but they were very good for a non-professional team!

 What else can be said? ... of course the expectations of last year's show in Twenthe were really high and people comparing this year to 2003 were a bit disappointed the show was nevertheless a good one as everything announced before appeared at the show and expecting more highlights always includes a big part of wishful thinking. A big drawback for photographers, besides the weather, was the layout of the static display.  Directly between the active runway and the photographer a lot of tails lurked around just to be between him and the aircraft about to take-off in the same moment when he was pressing the shutter... But a least the static was put very well allowing good photography conditions. Ear protection was a must as well, but not due to jet noise but because of the loudspeakers positioned directly in front of the crowd, that exasperated a lot of photographers as well.
Nevertheless, well done and speaking as a German I can say that a lot of other (bigger) nations would be proud if their Air Force would organize such an annual event!

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