days, five bases
Stefan Niehaus describes his personal German tour during July 2001.
Everything began early Tuesday morning (17 July). We arrived at the main gate of Naval Air Station Eggebek at 08:00, and as always a large number of former GŁtersloh spotters were already present. MFG 2 had organised two photo-days, each lasting until noon on the Tuesday and Wednesday to give as many spotters and photographers the chance to enter the base. A group of about 60 was taken in two buses to the taxiway at the southern end of the runway where pilots taxied their aircraft past slowly, wagging the nose and extending airbrakes before undergoing last-chance checks.
On one of the nearby dispersals sat some F-16s - Turkish Air Force 192 Filo had deployed six F-16C/Ds to Eggebek to participate in exercise 'Clean Hunter'.
After being dropped off at the main gate at about 12:00, we had about one hour to get from Eggebek to Kiel via motorway. At Kiel, MFG 3 had decided to arrange a photo-day at short-notice, but only a group of six people met at the main gate! Sea Kings on display were 89+57, 89+64 and 89+53 plus 89+71 without main rotors and a further one in the hangar. Bo-105 80+89 was also present and after a short chat with the crew it performed a take-off in front of the photographers before leaving for its home base of Cottbus. The photo-day finished early in the afternoon, leaving just time enough to drive back to Eggebek and see all six THK F-16s landing with bright yellow brake-chutes after their missions.
Next day MFG 2 managed (on request of the photographers) to position two Tornados on the platform just for us! After lunch we directly drove to Hohn where LTG 63 had organised a small photo-day. We picked up a small group of Dutch spotters at the main gate and made for the apron where three UH-1Ds of LTG 63 could be photographed. On the main dispersal eight C-160Ds were lined up and further ones included a LTG 61 machine from Landsberg and a French Transall (61-MS). Luckily the weather had changed from heavy rain to bright sunshine so it was well worth the day.
Thursday morning was spent back at Eggebek outside the fence to see the THK F-16s depart followed by their C-130 support. Then onto Jagel - its photo-day was marked by great weather - blue sky and puffy white clouds. Three AkG 51 Tornados were positioned to be photographed, among them 44+65 in its tiger colours. Jagel has two non-parallel runways - aircraft on their way back to the shelter areas cross the active runway and taxied past the spotters sitting on the secondary runway close to the point where both cross each other. At the end of another great day we drove around the huge airfield to photograph two Alpha Jets that remain for maintenance instruction.
It was about 17:00 when got back to the car. We wanted to be at Neuburg on Friday morning to photograph the F-4Fs and arriving aircraft for the weekend's Open Day, so we began to drive southwards - directly from Jagel to Neuburg, nearly 800 kilometres through the night...