Dear Friends,

The annual gathering of DHC1 Chipmunks and other classic aircraft, took place at Zoersel (Oostmalle) airfield (EBZR), close to Antwerp in Belgium, from Thursday 25 till Sunday 28 May 2006, courtesy of the Aero Para Club der Kempen.

Despite the bad weather Chipmeet 2006 was again a big succes as can be seen from the following day to day report.

Day 1 - May 24, 2006

After a couple of months of preparation, Chipmeet 2006 finally became reality on Wednesday, June 24, with the arrival of an Aztec full of instructors. Those well introduced in the world of Chipmunk flying will undoubtedly recognise Robert Miller, who has been a long-time participant to the meet. He brought a couple of colleagues in "Red Tape".

Soon to be followed by the first Chipmunk, which was actually Peter Waller's UK-based example G-BCPU, beating the Belgian based Chipmeet organiser in his own arena :o) Copilot John Dodd would arrive one day later.

Gérard 'Gee' Caubergs was the first European Mainland participant, arriving in G-AOJR. Nicole Mariën drove in by car later in the day.

Old friendships were renewed, . . .

. . . while the organiser Tony de Bruyn arrived in G-DHCC. The aircraft would be flown by various pilots during the rest of the week, including Jan Possemiers and Stijn Mennes.

Kenneth Fraser joined in his Chipmunk G-PVET, being the second Army example to arrive.

Not a bad start, with 4 Chipmunks already attending so early in the meet. And the early birds were just in time to enjoy a barbeque in the evening.

 

Day 2 - May 25, 2006

Arrival day for most. The weather was not very cooperative, and low cloud base and insufficient horizontal visibility prevented any of the crew from taking off. So the morning and a part of the afternoon were filled with playing games, having chats, drinking another coffee (no beer as the weather still might turn for the good) etc.

And indeed, the weather turned for the better, though we had to wait untill 3.30 for that. Some short sorties were flown and the first new arrivals dropped in, like G-ATHD, bringing Owen Cubitt and Rod Brown.

Soon to be followed by Harold Preiskel and Stephen Bruh in G-HAPY.

The Danish contingent also made it, bringing their support aircraft OY-POT (a Focke-Wulff Piaggio 149D containing Viggo Christiansen, Yrsa Stenild, Kim Toft Jorgesen and some luggage of the Chipmunk crews) . . .

. . . and three Chipmunks of the Chip-Chaps team (OY-ATO, flown by Ole Erik Nor-jensen, OY-ATR with Jorgen Nielsen and OY-ATF skippered by Erik Christoffersen),

The Dutch freshly revised "Chipmunk-4-ever" ex-Navy Chipmunk G-BWTG came in as well, flown by Henk van Harselaar and Hugo Drijver. Other members of the team (Peter de Graaf, Luc van der Stee and Chris van den Broek) arrived by car, to enjoy their part in the flying.

What's that, a second Navy Chipmunk? Yes, Cater and Nightingale flew their G-BVTX in . . .

. . . with Tom Burton, Eddie Cairns and others arriving in chase & support Robin D-EFQR.

Another non-Chipmunk arrived in the form of Yakovlev 52 G-CBSS, piloted by Etienne Verhellen and his wife Veronique.

Luckily, the late afternoon and most of the evening could be used for more sorties, making up for the flights that were missed earlier in the day.

While above pilots managed to fly their aircraft to Zoersel, some of the other machines couldn't make it because the weather didn't allow for it.

 

Day 3 - May 26, 2006

And then the bad weather set in, which prevented flying all day (except for a single short weather check late in the evening). Good there was a social program provided for this kind of days, with Rod Brown explaining everything you always wanted to know about building the various types of the Chipmunk . . .

. . . good food to be enjoyed . . .

. . . very nice Chipmeet crew to be enjoyed . . .

. . . and even some interesting aircraft to be enjoyed during a visit to the Stampe & Vertongen museum at the nearby airfield of Antwerp / Deurne. The museum President Danny Cabooter himself showed us around.

Look at the clouds; it has been like that (and worse) all day.

But all is good that ends good, and our cook for the day made sure we had a top-quality paella. Remembering this delicious meal, my mouth starts to water again :o)

 

Day 4 - May 27, 2006

Saturday. Another wet, clouded day. Since Chipmunk flying was out of the question (except for some short weather checks) in the morning, many of us started the day with the typical lowland game called "Skyvan pushing". No seriously, the Skyvan that was present on the airfield was parked in the wrong spot and had to be moved :o)

In the afternoon though, the cloudbase raised a bit, which made some limited flying possible. Author took the opportunity for a flight with a Skyhawk of the local flying club to take pictures of the attending Chipmunks from above.

A handfull of Chipmunks lined up . . .

. . . to execute some formation take-offs and landings.

But with the weather still being far from perfect, a lot of time was spent on talking Chipmunk, . . .

. . . waiting for better weather to come, . . .

. . . and on the preparation of the formation flight, planned for the last day.

Much to everybody's surprise, Chippie G-BFAW, piloted by Robert Bowles and Keith Hill, managed to find a route through the clouds and arrived in the evening from the UK. They were spontaneously treated on the local brew by the Chipmeet crew, for their daredevil action.

Another sociable evening was had, with cudos and presents for sponsors, instructors, attending aircrew and airfield crew.

No birthday without birthday cake, as Chippie went 60.

All present got a piece of the cake . . .

. . . and champagne to heighten the spirits even more :o)


Day 5 - May 28, 2006

The last day, already. Days go fast when you're having fun. Unlike most of the previous days, the weather was fair, actually allowing for flying for all present :o)

Preparations were made for some short local flying . . .

. . . or for the mass formation flight planned later in the morning.

Though still partly clouded, the weather is improving :o)

One machine became unservicable right before the start, so we took of with 11 machines, 8 of which are seen here.

Detail of the lead formation.

Overflying the lead formation.

Try to find all 11 machines if you can, while they are overflying Antwerp-Deurne airport for a flypast during the Stampe fly-in, which was in full swing there that day. Some of the participating Stampe & Vertongen SV4's can be seen on the taxiway below.

Overflying Antwerp.

A group shot was made soon after the formation flight, to allow for early departure for those that expected to encounter bad weather during their flight back home. Do you recognise anybody?

But many stayed till late in the afternoon for some additional formation (though in smaller groups) or aerobatics flying.

One of the locally based Stampe & Vertongen SV4's, that came back from its visit to the Stampe fly-in at Antwerp-Deurne.

The rest of the afternoon saw departures of Chipmeet participants back home . . .

. . . arrival and departures of interesting visitors . . .

. . . and the arrival of even more locally based SV4's.

While some were preparing their flight over the pond, . . .

. . . others enjoyed the improved weather.

Chipmeet ended more or less officially with the departure of the UK instructors. Thanks guys, for your help in making Chipmeet the event it is. We hope to see all of you again next year.

Next generation of Chipmunk pilots in the making here? At least he has very much enjoyed the scene of Zoersel airfield today :o) And so did we.

Alas, Chipmeet 2006 is over now. I won't mention the weather again, but all participating have expressed that they very much enjoyed the meet anyway. We hope to see all of you back next year. And hopefully we've drawn the interest of potential new visitors as well. Do know that you're all very much welcome during Chipmeet 2007.

 

Herbert van Hulten

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