Volkel in de Wolken 2017
The closest you can get to a barnstorming airshow in our region is the Volkel in de Wolken Airshow in a field at the edge of Volkel. On that Sunday morning, local people can walk from the church or the pub (depending on your main interests) straight to the airshow side just like they did in the roaring twenties and thirties. The participating pilots probably don’t fly their aircraft with a map and a compass like the early gypsies of the air did, but still they travel around Europe every weekend to show their skills and their aircraft. There are no foreign air forces, the Red Arrows haven’t been invited because they wouldn’t come. This is just a bunch of small airplanes and the spectators who come to watch it all. Two helicopters are giving rides. A lot of activity, including a market in the village, some re-enactment and a collection of old cars, keeps the audience busy until the air show starts. Even then, when you are tired of watching aerobatics, the noisy Yaks or scanning the sky for another small aircraft, you can amuse yourself again by going to the country fair.
This year the show started with a demonstration of the well-known Antonov 2 D-FONL followed by the first aerobatic act of the afternoon: a Dutch based Extra 300LT PH-ZWS. Volkel in the Wolken has always a fair amount of solo aerobatics on its program: another Extra 300LC G-GOFF flown by Mark Jefferies, a Dutch Cap 10 and Sukhoi 29 and of course the very last public display of local hero Frank Versteegh. He did his last payed low pass over the pastures of Volkel using his Extra 300L G-KAYH. Frank Versteegh, known to us for his Belgian registered Bücker Jungmann OO-OLE, his displays at several Belgian Air Shows and his performances at the beginning of the Red Bull Air Races, has flown in all the previous Volkel in de Wolken Air Shows. He postponed his early retirement with one year to be able to end his career at Volkel. He had to do it because the previous years’ event was cancelled. Apart from the solo performers, they invited 7 civil teams: The Aerosparx with only one Grob G109 due to circumstances, The Dutch Thunder Yaks with 3 Yaks 52 and one Sukhoi 29, the Global Stars Team with 2 Cap 232’s and one Extra EA300LC, Fokker Four with 4 Fokker S11, the Victor Romeo Formation (with 6 Robins), Tango Blue, all the way from France, with 2 Robinson R22 and the ACE Air Combat team with two Blackshape BS100. Although Volkel is very near to the Belgian border, there was only one participant coming from that country: the Bronco. It came straight from the UK where it had been displaying earlier that day. From much further away (Switzerland)was the wing walking act of Daniella Del Buono walking on a Stearman flown by her husband Emiliano del Buono. This was a nice change on the more familiar Breitling Wingwalkers. Guy Westgate from the UK based Glider FX Team tried to set a new world record rolling in a glider behind a tug aircraft. Somewhere in between we stopped counting but the speaker announced a new record, so we believed it.
The Koninklijke Luchtmacht is the only air force who participates at the show. Late in the afternoon there was a stream take off of 5 F16’s from nearby Volkel Air Base over the display site. They concluded the show, after they had done a fly-past over Margraten Memorial Center, with two fly-bys.
Text & Photography: Luc Geys