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Sanicole Sunset Airshow
 
C-130H Hercules - CH-10 - 15 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component   C-130H Hercules - CH-10 - 15 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - J-015 - F-16 Solo Display Team - Royal Netherlands Air Force   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - J-015 - F-16 Solo Display Team - Royal Netherlands Air Force
 
Extra 300L - Royal Jordanian Falcons - Royal Jordanian Air Force   Extra 300L - Royal Jordanian Falcons - Royal Jordanian Air Force   Sukhoi Su-26M - HB-MSO - Breitling   Rafale C - 135/113-GN - ETR 02.092 - French Air Force
 

Sanicole Sunset Airshow 2012

Report by Remco Donselaar

For more than 35 years, Leopoldsburg Airfield, near Hechtel, Belgium has hosted the International Sanicole Airshow. Though being a private organised airshow (the only one in the country) it always gets excellent support from the national and international military demonstration teams. For photographers it's not a very attractive proposition due to facing the sun all day. Since 2010 however there's been a sunset airshow on the Friday prior to the main show.

As it was raining most of the afternoon including our journey to Sanicole, it was very surprising to see the HayaBusa Skydive team jumping out of a BAC C-130 Hercules against a clear blue sky! Raised in 2003, the team nowadays is part of the Belgium Military Skydive team and is therefore supported by the Belgium defence forces. A last minute change in the display programme saw the RNLAF F-16 demo team to perform next. In our opinion it turned out to be a very smart move. With the warm evening sunlight Orange never was so orange and it popped a bunch of flares against a dark blue sky!

In advance stated as 'Flying from their 2nd home' the Royal Jordanian Falcons flew their second last European show of the year. The team have used Sanicole for years as their home base during the summer months when they display all over Europe. During their display it started to become cloudy again and slowly the dusk came in. A disadvantage of the rescheduling was the French Rafale display. Without any special effects the only highlights were his twin afterburners.

After the Rafale display the real fireworks started! With a little help of an impending rainstorm the dusk quickly turned into darkness and the Belgium A-109 display shed some light with popping the flares during its regular display routine. Next was the Rafale to come back in formation with the Breitling Jet team. The latter commenced with a display routine but after a couple of minutes the rainstorm moved across the field and they had to cancel their show.

After the rainstorm had cleared we were left in total darkness, time to set the camera to all manual settings! Fireworks coming from the aircraft and ground accompanied the last three displays. The SWIP Team flew a breath-taking display routine and O' Brien's Flying Circus showed he is not only able to land on a riding platform. The Belgium F-16 demo concluded the show. Except for it's afterburner he was only visible while popping flares!
F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA-84 - 10 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component
 
A-109BA Hirundo - H24 - Wing Heli - Belgian Defence - Air Component   A-109BA Hirundo - H24 - Wing Heli - Belgian Defence - Air Component   L-39C - Breitling Jet Team   L-39C - Breitling Jet Team
 
Piper Cup - G-BPCF - O Brien s Flying Circus   Silence Twister - SWIP Team   Silence Twister - SWIP Team   F-16AM Fighting Falcon - FA84 - 10 Wing - Belgian Defence - Air Component
 
Silence Twister - SWIP Team
 
Touchdown Conclusion
 
The Sanicole Sunset Airshow is such a unique show. In almost 2,5 hours you will see a visual spectacle that no other (European) airshow can come close to. For photographers like us it's a real challenge of finding the correct balance between shutter speed, aperture and ISO settings. The entrance fee of 22 euro's (pre-sale only) however was a bit much in our opinion and could have been reduced if the minutes long firework show at the end was a bit shorter perhaps.
 
Touchdown Rating - 4 out of 5
 
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