60 Years Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 “Richthofen"
This year the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71 “Richthofen" celebrated its 60th anniversary . A family day was planned with some visitors. A rumour of a special paint was also buzzing around. Not a big event, but interesting enough to pay this base another visit. Last visit was in 2017 for excercise “Brilliant Arrow”.
The weeks before my visit the Eurofighter Typhoons were stationed at Laage, because a part of the base was under refurbishment. Do not know what has been updated. The base looks the same to me, from the outside at least.
Most of the jets were returning the week before my visit. So secretly hoping for some extra flying. Especially the Skyhawks. A Canadian company deploys several “Agressor” Skyhawks from Wittmund. Supporting the training exercises of different Air Forces, but especially the German Typhoons.
I planned some days in a hotel nearby. Sadly the day for my departure there was a fatal mishap with a German Typhoon. Making it very possible that the German Typhoon fleet would be grounded. Nevertheless I drove to Wittmund the next day to see whether or not they would be flying.
The evening off my arrival the news that the family day was cancelled was confirmed. Out of respect for the killed Typhoon pilot. Now things were looking very bad. I was expecting not much to happen during my visit and decided to cut my trip short and departing on Thursday afternoon. Original plan was to wait for the arrivals on Friday and then leave Wittmund.
First day of spotting was an anxious waiting for something to happen. They started late in the morning, but at least they started flying. First some Typhoons, followed by a couple of Skyhawks. Six Skyhawks were on the apron. I never expected on the first day to see all six of them flying. But they did. Even the Typhoons flew in large numbers.
The second day the same scenario. As a plus I saw some new Typhoons flying over from Laage. Including the QRA aircraft. A limited number of operational visitors also popped up.
So two days of succes.
A local spotter confirmed that the special paint “60 year Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 71, Richthofen” would fly for the first time Friday morning. A small cermony on base was confirmed.
Input enough to change my plans yet again. I booked the hotel for an extra night and hoped for the best.
And indeed after some local flights of the Typhoons and Skyhawks. A twoseater Typhoon appeared on the taxitrack, it was the chase plane with photographer and followed by the special paint Typhoon. It took off for its first flight in its special colors witnessed by a handful of spotters. Both aircraft returned to Wittmund soon after and made some nice passes and touch and go’s.
Not the trip I had originally in mind. But after a bad start not a bad ending.
Text and Photography: Ludo Kloek