HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The "Royal Netherlands Air Force" is doing some precision training in Hancock County this week. The pilots from Holland are training to become part of the Dutch F-16 solo demonstration team similar to the U.S. Air Force's Thunderbirds.
The only difference is the Netherlands' Air Show features one fighter Jet at a time. WLOX News found out why Stennis International Airport was the chosen site for the training. They fly at 300 feet burning 3-thousand gallons of fuel, during a ten minute show. But the F-16's flying over the Hancock County Airport are not performing an actual air show, it's training exercises for Royal Netherlands Air Force pilots who hope to make the cut to join the team. "The first aerobatic move that you saw was a barrel roll two times around each other that's when the aircraft starts to turn actually around it's axes. We've got a maneuver that's it's not such a good comfort level for the pilot because it has a negative Gees , the same experience you have in a roller coaster." Said Netherlands Royal Air Force Pilot, Marcel Masman.
The Royal Netherlands Air Force is training in the United States, because the majority of its two seater F-16's are housed at a National Guard base in Ohio. Masman explained, "The first trips the pilot has to do he has to do it with an experienced demo pilot in the back seat just to train him to coach him." Stennis International Airport was selected as the site of the precision training for primarily one reason. "Your air space in America it's not that crowded here we've got a lot of space in the swamps over there to do our training so noise wise it's pretty good traffic wise it's pretty good perfect runway here at Stennis. And we've got the planes so it's a win win situation." Explained, Bram Versteg, Also a pilot with the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Director of the Airport, Bill Cotter told WLOX, "
Stennis International Airport has taken on a regional approach to aviation working with the folks at Keesler Air Force Base, the Marine Corps out of Navy New Orleans and this kind of takes us to an international level with the Royal Netherlands Air Force ." The Royal Netherlands Air Force will start doing air shows in Europe in May.. With one Scheduled show in Las Vegas in November.