2022 Sanicole airshow and Kleine Brogel spottersday
Every year the Belgian event Sanicole airshow takes place. This is held at Sanicole airfield which is located in the centre of the large Belgian army training area of Leopoldsburg. Sanicole only has a small grass/ concrete strip which only allows helicopters and small prop aircraft can use. The area around this airstrip is not accessible which makes it impossible to view the demo's from outside the event area.
Sanicole had a good reputation of very interesting (military) attending aircraft. Most aircraft performing during the Sanicole airshow are operating out of Kleine-Brogel airbase which is located very closely to the East. Some aircraft which perform fly-by's, such as the USAF B52 in previous years, are flying out of other airbases (outside Belgium). Sanicole also has a 'sunset' airshow which allows people to photograph and see aircraft performing during sunset hours, creating some very beautiful scenes!
Now 2022 was an exception. The spottersday at Kleine-Brogel was not held during the Sanicole airshow - so only practising demo aircraft could be seen. Besides this the entrance fee was €60;-, the weather was very bad (heavy rainshowers) and some of the most interesting aircraft were not on the flightline but somewhere else (invisible) on the airbase. This created a very bad ambience among the visiting people. Next to all of this the organisation announced the fly by of 2 F22A Raptors which were temporarily stationed in Poland (Lask) - the internet forums and other channels exploded with enthusiast spotters! This definitely sold a lot more of the expensive tickets. Only to be cancelled days before the airshow... and not even really obvious, only on their fb page - the official Sanicole page still had the F22A's on them.
Sanicole airshow was not much better: the arranged busses were badly organized which got them stuck in traffic while that was exactly wat these were intended to avoid. The complete airshow until 12:30 was cancelled due to heavy fog and a cloudbase of 100/200 feet.... One of the main issues why I never attended this airshow before is the fact that you are looking, and thus photographing, at the performing aircraft into the sun(!)
The very moist air made the fighter demo's very cool adding a lot of vapors! Highlihgts of these days were the USAF F35 demo team with P51 Mustang heritage flight and the Saudi (Arabian) Hawks demo team.
The highlight of the entire show was the USAF F35 Demo Team which is flown by Major Kristin "Beo" Wolfe - and she truly rocked the show. The high speed passes and high G-pulls were extraordinary. The heavy vapors made some really cool pics! For this occasion two Lakenheath F35A's were flown over to Kleine-Brogel - these were some of the aircraft not visible on the spottersday.
After "Beo" flew her demo she smoothly positioned her F35 next to a P51 Mustang to perform some USAF heritage fly pasts. It was incredible how she made a high speed pass, pulled up to loose energy by some heavy G's, and dove down again to get right into a very close formation with the P51!
As can be seen on these photographs looking into the sun was terrible... when the aircraft turned towards the North they were much too far away to make good photographs - although the sun at those moments showed their real colors....
Other fighter aircraft which were really cool to photograph due to hevay vapors were the Italian EF2000, Swiss Hornet and Belgian F16:
Best demo team for me personally during this day were the Turkish Stars (although I saw them a couple of times before) flying 'our' old NF5A/B Freedom Fighters - from which I had several seen operational during the 90's flying with our Dutch air force. Only annoying thing was the Turkish demo presentator which gave very aggressive sounding commentary.
This day I missed the Saudi Hawks because we left early in order to avoid the really terrible traffic jams.
This specific Sanicole airshow brought many (prop) training aircraft - at this moment the Belgian Air Force was looking for a replacement aircraft for their aging SF260's. Pilatus attended with the PC7 MkX, the French Air Force sent Pilatus PC21's, the Austrian Diamond sent attended with their Dart 550. A Hellenic Air Force T6A Texan II of the Daedalus demo team and Grob 120TP made the set complete.