[Belgian Air Component] 50 years in Belgian service: Tribute to the Mighty Hercules with a Celebration paint scheme

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50 Years in Belgian Service: Tribute to the Mighty Hercules with a Celebration paint scheme

Authors: Benoit Denet & Martin Gillet, reporting from Meslbroek Air Base (EBMB).

Melsbroek, March 15th 2021, despite the cloudy sky and the wind blowing, we gathered to witness a unique moment in the Belgian Air Component.

© Martin Gillet

ComOpsAir IPR greeted visitors with a Warm Welcome and confirmed that it is a tradition to give an aircraft an exceptional decoration on the occasion of unique events. This new paint scheme will likely be the last to be applied to a C-130 from our Air Component.

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© Benoît Denet

50 Years in Belgian Service

“Since 1972, the 20th Squadron of the 15th Air Transport Wing of Melsbroek has been equipped with Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo planes. For nearly half a century, the Belgian C-130s and their crews, technicians and support personnel have proven their dedication and professionalism during numerous international missions and operations.

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© Benoît Denet

The C-130 ‘CH-01’ landed on June 25, 1972 at Melsbroek airport. It was then the first aircraft in a fleet of 12 aircraft. On May 16, 1973, the initial fleet was complete. On July 15, 1996, the ‘CH-06’ crashed at Eindhoven airfield in the Netherlands. Thirty-seven passengers and four crew members are killed. As for the “CH-02”, it was irreparably damaged in a fire in a hangar at Brussels Airport in 2006. In March 2009, the “CH-13″ joined the fleet” says ComOpsAir IPR.

Teamwork at its Finest

Upon arrival, the Mighty Hercules C-130 registered CH01 was aligned with the Brussels Airport 25R Runway, at the Military Apron. Even if celebrating, the aircraft was surrounded by a handful of personnel, preparing the aircraft for her next mission. Cargo was getting offloaded from a truck and then carefully taken into the Cargo Bay thanks to the dexterity of the dedicated Team. The Mission of the afternoon was a drop of material at Florennes Air Base.

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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet

While loading and getting all ready for imminent departure, CH-01 offered all her angles, allowing the visitors to capture this moment, playing with the elements, sometimes with heavy gust of winds, sometimes with showers to finally shed some light on the Powerful Machine.

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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet

After thorough checklist and checks, CH-01 started her engines, one after one, providing ‘music to the ears of the visitors’, with a roaring typical engines, warming up until park breaks were released. Crew left the apron towards the active runway but to our greatest surprise, turned around and presented the CH-01 once more the visitors, allowing a full 360 degrees view while turning, staring at the fresh and latest pain scheme to celebrate 50 Years in Belgian Service.

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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet

CH-01 then went all the way up to the runway 25R threshold, passing her sisters C-130 Hercules namely CH-07 and CH-13, as well as the latest A400Ms CT-02 and CT03.

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© Martin Gillet

Video : CH-01 departure for next mission

Close up and details of CH-01 all dressed up

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© Benoît Denet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Benoît Denet
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© Benoît Denet
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© Benoît Denet
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© Martin Gillet

CH-01 took off perfectly, quickly climbing on the typical March weather with clouds passing by along with showers; headed to the Mission assigned. TENACITY !

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© Martin Gillet
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© Martin Gillet
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© Benoît Denet

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