Chipmeet 2003

© Tony De Bruyn

From May 1st till May 4th 2003 an ever growing number of DHC1 Chipmunks flocked to Brasschaat airfield, close to Antwerp in Belgium, for the annual get together. Apart from Chipmunks some other classic aircraft were planning to join the group, some in support of one or more Chipmunks.

Alas, the first day started off with poor and rather windy weather, especially in the UK, delaying the departure for most English participants. One UK participant reported by e-mail: "The weather is looking very un-inviting for today, with rain and widespread showers throughout the day, winds in showers SW gusting 30". The first arrival was nearby based G-DHCC, with D-EPAK flown by Andreas Knöpfler following soon. The ever so brave Harold Preiskel/Stephen Bruh in G-HAPY, Phil Cotrell in G-AORW and Nicole Mariën and Gerard Caubergs in G-AOJR managed to beat the weather arriving late in the afternoon. A Yak-52, flown by Chris van den Broek completed the line-up. Flying on the first day was limited to two check-out flights in G-DHCC, with all other flying cancelled due to the wind conditions.

The next day got off to a good start, with the weather clearing somewhat, seeing more participants arrive: Gert Martin in D-ERTY and Henk van Harselaar/Hugo Drijver in G-BWTG. Although a number of Chipmunks were still stuck in the UK, flying got into full swing now: six three-ship formations were flown that day and two individual aerobatic sorties. All formation flying was done under the expert guidance of a group of very enthusiastic military flying instructors. We are all very grateful to Chaf, Gizmo, Patja, Shell and to Robert Miller, ex RAF with over 4200 hrs on Chipmunks, who was in charge of the overall lead and supervision.

© Tony De Bruyn

A busy day was rounded off with a BBQ in the evening and, for those who didn't want to call it a day yet, some more socio-cultural fun in the local Irish Pub.

Winds picked up again on Saturday, keeping everybody firmly on the ground at Brasschaat. Plan B, the bad weather program, was activated by now; seeing all present visiting the Belgian Army artillery museum in the nearby camp. When returning from the museum a pleasant surprise was found back at the airfield with more Chipmunks having arrived from the UK: Peter Waller in G-BCPU, Allan Fretwell/Tom Burton in G-BFAW, Peter Farr and Michael Cater in G-BVTX. Tom Dehn (G-BCEY) had set out also that morning, but was sadly forced to return early to technical problems when still in UK airspace.
By now a grand total of 10 Chipmunks had arrived, a record for any edition of the Chipmeet!
By late afternoon the winds had died down, allowing for a previously planned seven-ship formation to perform a fly-by at Antwerp International Airport and the City of Antwerp.
The day ended in very high spirits indeed, with so many friends joining in the dinner-dance party lasting into the early morning hours on Sunday.

© Tony De Bruyn

Sunday morning dawned with brilliant blue skies providing the best imaginable flying conditions. The evening before Robert Miller had been planning a very tight and busy schedule to the get the most out of the time remaining, resulting in five more sorties being completed that morning. These did not at all prove to be just the usual stuff, for all five sorties comprised tail chase and aerobatic formation flying. A most exhilarating, ecstatic experience and another first for the Chipmeet! One pilot later commented: "I don't know what I looked like after the tail chase and formation aeros on Sunday , but I can tell you that I felt like the day I first went solo!".

In total 18 details were flown during Chipmeet 2003 for a total airborne time of 32 hrs 34 min.

A good time was enjoyed by all!

The organizers would like to thank all participants for their support, the instructors pilots for lending their time and expertise and our volunteers for providing everyone with a great time!

Please do join us at Chipmeet 2004.