McDonnell-Douglas AH-64D Apache Solo Display team
In 2002 in the run-up to the Open Days of the Royal Netherlands Air Force at air base Gilze-RIjen, the plan was to come up with an AH-64D Apache Solo Display Team.
After permission from the RNlAf Head Quarters at The Hague, contact with experts from the Boeing factories was then sought to find out the possibilities of the Apache.
In conjunction with Boeing, a flight program was compiled in a relatively short period.
Some spectacular parts of the display were:
- Hammerhead: Climbing until the speed drops and with a vertical roll diving back to the starting point
- Jaques Flop: Hovering and rotate the longitudinal axis and then turn 180 degrees
- Looping: This is very complex for a helicopter and strongly dependent on the wind
- Flare-dropping: Flying maybe not so special but yet an attractive part of the show, with the helicopter launching some flares (meant as defence against enemy missiles) while flying short turns.
Also in 2003, a solo display was flown with the Apache, although the programme was slightly different from 2002 show. For both years, both display pilots were Wandert Brandsen and Hein Faber.
Often the team composition changed, but in terms of composition they were equal, one or two Team Coaches (experienced Apache pilots), one team captain (= display pilot in command), a display pilot and four aircraft specialists from the support staff of the 301 squadron.
In 2005, the team was transferred to the operational squadron and captain Raymond Laporte was added to the team as a new copilot. That same year, the team won the 'Sir Douglas Bader Trophy' for the best solo display during the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Due to posting in Iraq and Afghanistan, after 2006, no solo display was flown with the Apache.
In 2010 when the postings ended, a team could be assembled again. Major Laporte, Test Pilot, began to practice with Major Roland Wally Blankenspoor and performed shows in Belgium, the Netherlands and also during the International Air Tattoo. For the shows the same aircraft, the Q-19 was used, which flew with a custom colour scheme that was applied as stickers.
In 2011, Laporte left the team and Captain Paul 'Wokkel' Webbink became the new copilot. Blankenspoor became the new display pilot. Because the flying movements flown during the show are non-standard, the experience of the pilots with the type is a very important requirement.
Also now one special aircraft was assigned to the team, the Q-17. This was provided with an attractive colour scheme, also now applied in the form of stickers.
Also for 2013, this aircraft was used, fitted with a customized colour scheme because of the centenary of the Royal Netherlands Air Force.