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On December 10, 1988, after 10 years at the 1st All Weather Fighter Wing, as is was called at that time, I walked through the H2 maintenance hangar's doors for the last time. The H2 was hosting a maintenance squadron called: F-16 Intervention.

During these 10 years, I served at Beauvechain Air Base, as a non-commissioned officer (NCO) , I was engine specialist on one of the most sophisticated fighter aircraft of that time: the Lockheed Martin F-16, that was called General Dynamics F-16 until 1993.

This period of my live, that I can hardly forget, was so rich on learning, as well professionally as well as humanly. In fact, what else could a 20-year-old non-commissioned officer dream of, when he starts his young career on an aircraft like that.

I have to say that in September 1979, when my fellow students and I move from the Belgian Air Force Technical Training School of Saffraanberg to the 1Wing, there are less than ten F-16 aircraft on base. Its first aircraft (FB01) was delivered on January 26, 1979. It was also the first F-16 coming from an European construction chain (SABCA). The next aircraft are delivered at a frequency of 1 or 2 per month.

View the embedded image gallery online at:

Two squadrons operate at the 1st Fighter Wing: 350 Fighter Squadron is still "operational" on F-104G, from NATO's point of view, while 349 Fighter Squadron already said goodbye to the Starfighter and started the conversion to the F-16. On December 31, 1980, it would become the first Squadron being operational on this aircraft in Europe.

The key personnel, responsible for the reception and the maintenance of the first aircraft, is initially a group of 45 technicians, of which 4 are officers.  They were trained in the US during the second half of 1978.

In Beauvechain, the education of the technicians was done by an instructor team formed by 2 officers and 20 NCO’s, trained in the US during the first half year in 1978. After taking six months to write the training manuals, they started the conversion of the 1Wing technical personnel in January 1979.


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