Part of the training for Air Force pilots is night flying. These exercises are often in the dark winter months. The long evenings make it possible to practice earlier in the evening to have as little disturbance as possible.
To keep their skills up to date, airmen have to do a lot of training. Many things like emergencies and interceptions can be done with the aid of simulators. Flying with night vision goggles is something different then flying during daylight. This is why it is practiced in real life. Since you look through some kind of binoculars, your field of view is limited. Many real missions are flown at night time, so the pilots have to be familiar with using night vision goggles. The ground crew also have to be used to working around an aircraft at night and with low light.
Many exercises are held in Canada and the United States. There are less limitations to the possabilities then in Western Europe. But airmen also need to know the Dutch territory and airspace. Besides that, many exercises in the Netherlands are in cooperation with the ground forces like the Luchtmobiele Brigade.
The night flying exercises at Leeuwarden Air Base and Volkel Air Base are at the same time. The crew of helicopters, transport aircraft and tankers also have their exercises in this time of the year. Most of the exercises with jets are over the North Sea. Between the United Kingdom and the Netherlands and north of the Dutch isles are areas designated for these exercises. Since the jets often use their afterburner during take off, many of the complaints are about the flights during night. Even though most flights are at day time.
Below you find a series of photo’s of the night flying and the Hawker Hunter which is also located at Leeuwarden Air Base. Some of the photo’s are also for sale at my webshop.