Header image: Five pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historic Flight with BBMF fighter pilots and Chipmunk instructors Sqn Ldr Mark ‘Disco’ Discombe (OC BBMF) on the far right and Flt Lt Andy Preece (BBMF Ops Officer) second from right. BBMF DH Chipmunk T10 WK518 provides the backdrop. (Photo: Clive Rowley)
During the last week of February 2020 five pilots from the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Historic Flight, two of them new to the Flight, visited the BBMF at RAF Coningsby to conduct pre-season training in the BBMF DH T10 Chipmunk aircraft. This is now a regular event in the BBMF calendar and is part of a reciprocal arrangement where the BBMF fighter pilots visit the RNLAF Historic Flight at their base at Gilze-Rijen in the Netherlands to fly in their AT-16 Harvards. These exchange visits are conducted under a Memorandum of Understanding.
The RNLAF Historic Flight operates an impressive collection of airworthy historic aircraft ranging from a DH 82 Tiger Moth, various other historic training types including several Harvards, a Piper Super Cub, a Taylorcraft Auster Mk III, a Beechcraft T’7 Navigator, to a North American B-25 Mitchell twin-engine medium bomber and a Spitfire Mk IX. The Flight will soon be operating three Spitfires.
The Dutch pilots are able to benefit from the training on offer in the BBMF Chipmunks, which includes spin recoveries that they are unable to perform back home, as well as exposure to tail wheel landings. The BBMF has always operated its Chipmunks as ‘airborne simulators’ to teach and practice the techniques required to fly Hurricanes and Spitfires. The Chipmunk can be used to simulate the rate of descent and limited time available in the event of an engine failure in a Spitfire, by gliding (with the throttle at idle) at 110 knots rather than the normal gliding speed of 70 knots. This so-called ‘Fighter PFL’ (Practice Forced Landing), during which the drills for the Spitfire are ‘actioned’, is also of great value to the Dutch Spitfire pilots. In addition, just spending time together talking about ‘warbird’ flying is of benefit to everyone.