Sunday, July 1, 2007

Spotter's day at Beja

Last friday, on 29th June, the Portuguese Air Force organized, for the first time, a spotter's day. This gave to the portuguese community of plane spotters the rare opportunity of take some photographs inside of a military base - in this case, Beja's air base, located in the south of the country. Actually, it was the first time that this occured, since the spotter's day organized in 2002 was part of the Nato Tiger Meet military exercise - which also took place in Beja.

The Portuguese Air Force must be congratulated for the excellent reception gaven to the spotters: during all the day, we were moved from one area to the another in order to assure the best conditions for photograph the aircraft (angles, sun light, etc.); we were able to visit the front line of every squadron and assist to the preparation of some missions with Alpha-Jet and Epsilon aircrafts; finally, along with the Alouette III helicopters and Alpha-Jet and Epsilon aircrafts assigned to the 552, 101 and 103 Sqd. based in Beja, the air base recieved the rare visit of a C-130 transport aircraft, a P-3P maritime patrol aircraft and two F-16 A/B OCU fighters. In addition, the acrobatic teams Asas de Portugal (Alpha-Jet) e Rotores de Portugal (Alouette III) made their train for the exhibition of saturday.

For instance, this was the begining of a new relationship between the Air Force and the portuguese plane spotters. As an aviaton enthusiast, I must give my acknowledge for the great day that I had at Beja - it was one of the best visits that I ever made to an air base, including those that I made as a reporter.

A F-16B OCU (15118) from 201 Squadron "Falcões", based at Monte Real, arrives to Beja after a flight with the winner of a television contest. A monoplace (F-16 A, 15112, with low-viz marks) also took part of this special mission.

The impressive demonstration of the Asas de Portugal, here flying their two Alpha-Jet A in a close formation and at high speed.

A Alpha-Jet A aircraft arrives from a train mission. The Alpha-Jet fleet is now assigned to 103 Squadron "Caracóis", whose instructors are also pilots of the acrobatic team Asas de Portugal. The other operator, the 301 Squadron "Jaguares", is currently based in Monte Real where operates the modern F-16 MLU.

A Epsilon from 101 Squadron "Roncos" with a Alpha-Jet in the background. Currently, they are the backbone of the trainning fleet of the Portuguese Air Force.

The arrival of another Alpha-Jet A, painted with the old wrap around scheme.

The portuguese spotters captured every angle possible of this Alpha-Jet from the Asas de Portugal. Although it was the first time that a spotter's day occured in Portugal, the number of photographers and enthusiasts was very significant, inclunding some well-known portuguese spotters such as Luís Rosa, Jorge Ruivo, Álvaro Gonçalves, Luís Gonçalves, Pedro Becken, Floriano Morgado along with others.

Pedro Monteiro

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