NATO Tiger Meet 2016, Zaragoza AFB
The Tiger Meet is an annual event which gathers squadrons from all over Europe, with a tiger in their squadron logo. This coupled with some splendid special colour schemes, makes this an event something not to mis. This year it looked very promising as a lot of Squadrons confirmed their participation. Earlier Tiger Meets were less attended due to various operational deployments. So of I went to Zaragoza with 4aviation for a few days of sun and fun.
Zaragoza is orientated in such a way that in the morning you're taking pictures against the sun. This in perspective to the available spotter places outside the base. After 12.30 the sun moves in a more favourable position. This would keep haunting us during our visit. Thursday was a day outside the base. Sadly most of the participating aircraft used runway 30R which made it impossible to take decent shots of the landing aircraft. The spotters place is almost directly under the glide path of the runway. So I decided to move to the civilian side of the field. Here the locally based C-130-’s and F/A-18’s could be photographed very nicely. A few visitors made it a worthwhile day.
Friday was the spottersday on base. The main event and the sun was present. When we entered the field, we were greeted by Don Verhees who had disappointing news. The base would close at 14.00 o’clock instead of the promised 18.00 o’clock. There were some safety issues according to the Spanish security. Keeping in mind the bad position of the sun in the morning, our good spirits soon vanished. On the bright side the 25 € entrance fee was no longer a issue. Before we were allowed on the spotters location we had the chance to walk along the aircraft on the tarmac. No pictures were taken due to the backlit problem. At 10.00 o’clock we were allowed on the spotters place between the taxitrack and the main runway.
At least there was room for everyone. A large area was cleared for us. After a while the jets started and we saw all the special painted Tiger aircraft depart for a photo flight. After their flight they all made a low pass in front of us to allow us to take nice pictures. After landing the light was almost ok to take pictures on the taxiway. Immediately after the last aircraft passed us, we were escorted back to the tarmac. Luckily we now could take some well lit shots of the aircraft parked there. Typically Spanish I think, but out of the blue the two o’clock closure of the base was no longer an issue. And we were even allowed back near the taxitrack to see the second wave of aircraft depart and return. This put a smile back on many faces. Finally at six o’clock the fun was over, the base was closing.
The next day a very relaxed airshow was planned. Not to many people around and after waiting till the sun was in an ok position. I strolled over the tarmac to take some shots of the Tigers. The flying part of the show consisted of a local F/A-18, two Rafale M's, Patrulla Aguilla and Patrulla Aspa. This time the base closed at the promised time and my visit to the Tiger Meet was over. All in all a nice trip. Maybe we will meet again next year in Landivisiau.
Text & Photography: Ludo Kloek