September 2005 saw the opening of an
exhibition dedicated to "Jachtvliegers" (Fighter Pilots) in the Military
Aviation Museum in Soesterberg the Netherlands. This exhibition shows the history of
fighter pilots during the years, starting with the first pilot (flying the French made
Farman plane and dressed in leather) to the modern day F-16 pilot dressed for operations
One of the invitees
to the opening was former Netherlands Air Force Brig. Gen. Steve Netto. He noticed in the
museum that aircraft and flight gear were well preserved. But the stories off brave
actions, silly stunts, crashes and lost friends, were nowhere written down. Steve decided
to do something about that omission in history. While collecting stories for the book he
planned, he learned that these fighter pilots would like to have some sort of meeting. It
was time for the first ever Fighter Pilots Call in the Netherlands!
The way to the Call..
Friday the 8th of September 2006 was set as the date this unique Call had
to take place. Over 1300 (former) fighter pilots were tracked down and around 600 planned
to attend, including some female jet jocks.
Flightgear Online was invited to take part
in the festivities at the airbase as being one of the major contributors to the
"Jachtvliegers" exhibition. HUD and Venz designed an appropriate patch, which
was being produced and to be handed out to the pilots.
A week before the Call, Frank and me
checked out the big hangar were the party was going to happen. Not really necessary to us,
but the hangar chief told us the big helicopters inside would be moved out before the
Left and middle: Exhibition of flightgear and
an ejection seat provided by the Flightgear Online team. Right: A bit of current
The Call in full effect..
The Friday started out early when a RNLAF truck picked up our items. After arriving at
Soesterberg AB, we unloaded our items and started to build up our exhibition. Consisting
of two mannequins (one F-16 and one F-104 pilot), 5 coveralls, 4 helmet sets, 1 ejection
seat (F-86K), several decorated helmet covers and some small artifacts.
At 14:00 hours, a large group of
participating (former) pilots met at the Military Aviation Museums
"Jachtvliegers" exhibition. Around 16:00 hrs, most people found their way to
Hangar 1 at Soesterberg airbase with the busses provided by the organization. The first
patches were given to the pilots and the beer started to flow. The conversations were
interrupted by the sound of a jet engine when a F-16BM landed and taxied close to the
Hanger. The Fighting Falcon brought the team coach and a crew chief of the RNLAF F-16
16:45 sharp, the Solo Display F-16AM with
tail number J-055 made a low pass over the runway. Everyone inside "scrambled"
outside to watch the impressive display. After the display, the pilot and coach entered
the hangar and we had a small talk. The rest of the afternoon and evening was filled with
stories, songs, drinks and a good meal. Around midnight we drove home.
We are proud to have been a part of
this Pilots Call.