Open Door Metz-Frescaty
On 13th of May 2007, Metz-Frescaty Air Base held an open door to mark the centenary of the first helicopter flight. Metz-Frescaty Air Base was a front-line French Air Force base. The base is located approximately 8.0 km south-southwest of Metz. A military restructuring plan has ensured that the base since 2012 has closed and placed in reserve status.
We arrived very early in the morning at the entrance of the airbase, because the early arrival we stood in front of the row with many waiting people. We decided to first take a look at the static display, there were some nice participants in the static display. First I want to mention the Italian Air Force with two NH500E from the 208° Gruppo SVE stationed at Frosinone airbase. They are not much seen outside of Italy so these were already two very beautiful participants. Also present with two helicopters was the U.S. Air Force, the first helicopter they brought over was a MH-53M Pave Low from the 21st SOS (Special Operation Squadron) stationed in Mildenhall. With the retirement from USAF active duty of the Pave Low MH-53J & M model helicopters, the 21st SOS was inactivated on 9 October 2007 what makes it more special to have seen him in Metz. The second helicopter from the US Airforce was a HH-60G Pave Hawk from 56th RSQ, The 56th Rescue Squadron is part of the 48th Operations Group at RAF Lakenheath. It operates HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters for search and rescue missions. It will relocate to Aviano Air Base starting in 2017.
The German Army (Deutsches Heer) participated with an UH-1D Iroquois from LTG 63 (Lufttransportgeschwader) stationed in Hohn (Northern Germany). Also the Irish Air Corps attended the Opendoor, this time with an EC135P2. The French Marine travelled from Lanvéoc Poulmic with a LynxHAS2. Furthermore I saw a Belgian Air Force A-109 Agusta and a EC135 from the French Gendarmerie in static. The French Air Force participated in the static display with a Mirage 2000D, Rafale C and C-160G but because of the poor presentation with the fences to close to the aircraft not much pictures were taken of these airframes.
After walking the static, it was time to search a place at the runway for the flying display. The French Air Force already started with a Puma and Caracal Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) display. Just on time to make some pictures of this very nice performance. Afterwards I saw a Super Puma making an evacuation display. Furthermore four AS550 Fennecs were doing some pleasure flights and one Fennec demonstrated an interception from a slow ULM. Beside all the French Air force displays, the Securité Civile also did a short but nice demonstration with one of their EC145.
The highlight for most of the attending people was the Spanish helicopter display team: “Patrulla Aspa”. “Patrulla Aspa” flies the Eurocopter EC-120 Colibrí. With some very exciting movements, this display was definitely worth to see. After this very nice display I saw the departure of an Aérospatiale SA365N Dauphin II from EPNER. After this departure it was time for me also to went home.
This Opendoor was a worthwhile visit, I had a very nice day with many performances and there were some aircraft in the static that not very often can be seen. Job welldone BA128 !!!
Text and photography: Dirk Geuns