All the Highlights of the RNLAF Open Days 2019 Show in Volkel

A Dutch F-35 took part in the Air Power Demo at Volkel. (Image credit: Author)

We have attended the Luchtmachtdagen show organized by the Royal Netherlands Air Force. And here is what we have seen.

Over the weekend of June 14 – 15, the RNLAF organized its Air Force Days at Volkel airbase. The last edition of the event took place back in 2016, as Luchtmachtdagen was not held in 2017 and 2018 due to the budgetary constraints. This year’s edition featured an interesting program with some unique  participants, including the Hellenic Air Force F-4 Phantoms with special markings that took part in the static display.

The dynamic displays were quite interesting: ranging from vintage to contemporary airframes, the spectators could observe a whole spectrum of aircraft maneuvering in  the air.

When it comes to the most interesting fixed-wing assets one should list a significant representation of the Swedish aircraft design school. Not only are we referring here to the traditional Swedish Air Force Historic Flight presence (Viggen and Draken), but also to the Czech Gripen Demo.

The Swedish Draken. (All images credit: Author).

The jet aircraft showcased  in Volkel also included the Italian M-346 Master demo team, along with Belgian Air Force F-16 ‘Vador’ demo, and a Spanish Eurofighter Typhoon. The flying program also included a Danish F-16 solo display and a vintage Hawker Hunter airframe.

This year, the M-346 Master performed its display using smoke generators which highlight the maneuvers of the advanced jet trainer.

Among the military assets one could also have found some helicopters, including the Dutch Chinook and NH-90.

The Dutch NH-90.

One of the main highlights of the Luchtmachtdagen show in the Netherlands is the so called Air Power demo involving most of the RNLAF assets in what seems to be one of the most spectacular air show demonstrations around, simulating an attack on the airfield. This year the air power demo involved the Dutch F-16s (10 examples), C-130 Hercules, several helicopters and a single F-35 Lightning II airframe. This was not the first time the F-35 took part in the Air Power Demo: the “debut” was three years ago, during the Luchtmachtdagen 2016 airshow at Leeuwarden Air Base, when two Lightning II aircraft took part in the tactical event. Unfortunately, the weather was not as humid and thus spectacular as back in 2016, consequently, no significant vapor cones could be spotted on the F-35 this year.

Ten F-16s took part in the Air Power Demo.

Notably, the USAF also included its assets in the Volkel dynamic displays program, which is quite a rarity in case of airshows happening in the mainland Europe. Apart from flypasts, rarely do the USAF pilots do any dynamic displays here. This has been especially pronounced in case of the last year’s edition of the NATO Days event held in Ostrava – there, the United States acted as a partner nation for the show, yet, no aircraft demo could be watched in the air. In Volkel the USAF C-17 performed a modest display in the air, including a reverse thrust landing showcasing the aircraft’s STOL capabilities.

C-130 releasing flares.

The Luchtmachtdagen show was also enriched by aerobatic teams. In case of this year’s edition we had Patrouille Suisse, Patrouille de France and RAF Red Arrows performing their displays in the air, which constituted the team element of the show.

All in all the show was good. Let’s hope that the budgetary constraints will not be force the RNLAF to cancel the future editions. Given the fact that more F-35s would be in service over the upcoming time, maybe we will witness more spectacular displays involving this aIrframe.

F-35 “caught” in cloud of flares.

You can find more shots from the Volkel show here

About Jacek Siminski
Standing contributor for TheAviationist. Aviation photojournalist. Co-Founder of Expert in linguistics, Cold War discourse, Cold War history and policy and media communications.