The Oirschotse Heide is a large training area used by the Dutch Ministry of Defence just north of Eindhoven Airbase and next to the Generaal-Majoor De Ruyter van Steveninck Kazerne. It is used by both the army and the air force the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLu, Royal Netherlands Air Force) uses the GLV-V to train helicopter crews.
Apaches, Chinooks and Cougars of nearby Gilze-Rijen Airbase on a very regular base, where they either practice alone, with multiple helicopters, or together with ground forces. The terrain offers various options to practice landings in confined spaces, brown-out landings, or terrain masking techniques.
The area consists of woodlands, heath and sandplains, which offer a good training ground for both land- and air forces. A unique feature of this area is also that it is freely accessible for the public. There are no fences and you can freely walk around, as long as you stick to the rules mentioned at the entrances. The sandy environment of the Oirschotse Heide gives pilots a realistic training opportunity for brown outs as encountered on missions regularly.
During this day different helicopters of the DHC (Defense Helicopter Command) kept us busy until in the evening when two Chinooks of the 298 Squadron of Gilze-Rijen Air Base started training on the Oirschotse Heide GLV-V.
The purpose of this training was to perform duo landings with the helicopters. People of the Army were present on the ground that played the role of a training enemy and in keeping the spectators on a safe distance.
The load master who also has the role of on-board gunner was supposed to notice this enemy and he should be able to neutralize the treat with the weapon on the cargo hatch at the back of the Chinook. In some cases, the landings were aborted because too much enemy activity was observed from the air. As this mission was flown in the evening making the conditions ideal due to the soft light of the setting sun.
Ones again the GLV-V kept op to its reputation as being a good spot for pictures. So after sunset we left with a good feeling and where looking forward the next season of evening flying.