The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Days at Gilze-Rijen Airbase on 21 June 2014 saw the final official public appearance of the last McDonnell Douglas MD-11 airliner that regularly flew passengers on intercontinental routes.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’s three-engine airliner named Audrey Hepburn saluted the roughly 140,000 spectators of the airshow with a joint pass together with a RNLAF KDC-10 tanker-transport aircraft before stealing the show one more time with an extra fly-by before landing and taxiing up-close to a fairly enthousiastic crowd. The aircraft later took off again, giving a large number of terminally or chronically sick children the ride of their lifetimes.
Despite the end of regular passenger flights with the MD-11 as part of a everyday airline schedule, some of the 200 MD-11s that were produced will keep on flying people over the globe on charter flights or for transporting US troops. The others fly as cargo planes.
The RNLAF Days saw other legendary planes making their appearance, like the Battle of Britain’s Spitfires and a Lancaster bomber and the Catalina PBY-5 amphibious aircraft, as well as 4th generation fighter jets like a Slovakian Air Force MiG-29, several F-16 fighter jets.
Amongst the highlights were the fly-by of the first Dutch Boeing 787 of Arke Fly – one of the few Dreamliners flying in Europe and the fairly impressive Spanish Patrulla Aspa helicopter display team flying five fine looking Airbus Helicopters EC 120B Colibri choppers. And of course the air assault demo with explosions, troop insertions by RNLAF Chinooks, Cougars and a Hercules plus overflying Apaches and F-16 in an offensive and protective role.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger,
video footage by AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest