The invitation at Spangdahlem Air Base for their Open House 2011 marked the second flying display of Bronco 99+32 in Germany since restoration. After the Nordholz Air Day last year, 99+32 was again a real crowd puller and pictures of her on the internet are ever increasing. Markus Rheinlander, Bronco Crew Chief, reports from this unique opportunity the visit a USAF Open House in Europe.
Heading to Spangdahlem on Thursday, we took the opportunity to visit Peter Junior at the Flugausstellung Hermeskeil, which hosts the prototype OV-10B Bronco 99+16. Peter has supported our Bronco project already in many ways. After further stops at Idar Oberstein airfield for the famous „Schwenkbraten“, crossing the beautiful Mosel river on the way to Spangdahlem. As it was not possible to enter the base on Thursday, we got a nice Hotel in Bitburg and went back to "Spang" on Friday morning. Once we got on the base, we really felt impressed by finding us "at home in the USA", although we were in the middle of Europe. The base has it's own hospital, hotel, fuel station, cinema, a lot of restaurants, incl. Burger King, car outlet and supermarkets all stuffed with great American products and to be paid for in US dollars. We checked in at the Air Force Inn.
The arrival of 99+32 was delayed due to bad weather over the Ardennes to 17 o’clock local. Time to enjoy the display rehearsal of the other acts. Spangdahlem finally welcomed the Bronco with nice sunshine and a group of Bronco Crew Chiefs in their brand new orange flight suits! Taxiing in, in style, with a US flag at the canopy, the aircraft was prepared for the night and we enjoyed the apron, checking out the other aircraft and had a good exchange with the colleagues from the Viper West F16 Demo Team. The evening ended with some Burgers and a fitting bowling competition.
Saturday morning, early wake up, breakfast at the golf club and a nice coffee at Starbucks. Soon it was time to head for he display area to set up our tent with the merchandising articles. The Bronco display was scheduled on both days for 15 o’clock local. So enough time to visit the static display, watching skydiver as well as flying displays of F16, A10 and L39. While our cheerleaders were very busy in selling T-shirts, stickers and patches, the rest of us made new contacts as well as meeting old friends and fans. Really impressive is how many fans we already have that travel to airshows especially to meet us. We had a lot of good chats after the display on both days. Many of people still remembered the time when the Broncos where stationed at Sembach Air Base and flying in this region. Also nice to meet some guys from RFB, who worked on our Broncos, while still in active service. While the day was coming to an end, those who could resist Burger King went off base to enjoy some local food and paid for in euros.
The Spangdahlem flying display had some really interesting acts. The show was opened by the local jets of 52nd Fighter Wing. The A-10 performed some nice flypasses and was later on joined by the F-16C. After the local jets, it was time for the Bronco to show off. Another local jet followed, an ex-East German L-39 which is based at the nearby Bitburg airfield, which used to be an USAFE base in the past. The show was closed each day by the Viper West Demo Team, based at Hill AFB, USA. They made a real good show and display pilot Dover rocked the sky.
Sunday started with Starbucks again and basically the same program as on Saturday. Sadly, not all scheduled aircraft made it to the Open House, but the guys in Spangdahlem made a very good job to get the best out of what was on offer. Between 30 and 40.000 people had visited the event by the time the gates closed! A good sign that the public is well interested in those events and they are very worthwhile organizing them.
On both days Tony did an excellent job to please the crowd with the Bronco display. Although the weather was cloudy, it didn't stop Tony from performing the full display, including rolls and knife edge pass. After the show he taxied in front of the crowd, and displayed the American flag outside the cockpit.Time was made to greet the public, sign autographs and having a chat with all the fans who visited the show.
After the Sunday show, the Bronco was refueled to make the trip back home. After handing over a present to Christopher Weggeman, 52nd Fighter Wing commander, it was time to say goodbye. Tony made the 45 minute trip back home where some Bronco fans were waiting to see the arrival in nice evening sunshine. The rest of the team packed the sales booth and drove back home.
A big „Thank you“ goes to everyone that made or visit happened, to all our supporters and to all old and new fans. Meeting fans from USA to Poland and from Norway to Spain made this Open House really unique and we hope to be able to come back again! We would also like to thank the Open House organisational team for the invitation and the great hospitality! And thanks to Patrick Peulmeule, Luc Dujardin and Tony Draps for sending us some great pictures.

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