Those who missed, will not miss you…, a revenge ?
The hard core of the French culture "enthusiasts" (*)
" Build your career far from risky business " was their motto and also their excuse.
They joined the Air Force when the war was over. For some of them flying was only a faster way to climb the ladder of a military career. For the others: surpassing oneself in the exaltation of the flight. When the first ones realised that flying could be risky, they couldn’t or refused to fulfil the operational requirements advocated by the Royal Air Force veterans. Beauvechain was a mandatory step since the first Belgian flying unit created after the war. The first Wing mentors didn't show much compassion for those who couldn't cope with their way of flying. They ejected them for another base under construction which was meant to house the first fighter bombers: Florennes. The Florennes base commander was a prestigious ace, badly treated by the staff at the time, for his outspokenness.
Notwithstanding, he managed to create a fighter-bombers unit with the leftovers of Beauvechain.
The seeds of grudge were planted… or when wise equal chicken-hearted.
Flying a navigation is not as glamorous as dogfighting but it is safer and "clever" !
The leftovers considered themselves as the wise brains of the Air Force and entered the staff college to confirm, another way to avoid the occupational hazard.
(*)
A Kleine Brogel Base Commander was caling them: " the Florennes clique"…
When the "dogfighting" spirit of the 1 Wing fades
The 349 and 350 squadrons landed with their Spitfires in Beauvechain in October 1946.
All the pilots were R.A.F. graduated. In their blood flowed the cells of the "dogfight". They transmitted the virus, first to their younger partners, trained in the UK, later on to the Belgian pilots. Their selection was harsh, the ones would couldn't cope with their way of flying and thinking were dismissed : " fight to fly, fly to fight, fight to win " and keep in mind you are " all for one and one for all " (ground crew included).
These rules prevailed to the end of the fifties. In 1958, the outcasts made a come back with their friends the navigators on a cosy twin engine: the CF-100. Crowned with Staff College thunderbolts, they dictated new rules to disguise their cowardice: priority to the straight and level flight, aerobatics and dogfight forbidden…
They vanished in 1962 when they heard that a new "scary" Mach 2 single seat fighter was coming with one of the First Wing founder as commander: Yves Bodart. Short time after, he succumbed to a failure of oxygen. On this occasion, the excluded of the early fifties and their sons made a triumphant return. They banished the last heirs of the "dogfight" generation. A subculture took place where flight safety and nuclear operations dominate the Air Force thinking at the expense of realistic training and air combat manoeuvring. (ARMS DEAL Ingemar Dörfer)
The dogfight is above all a state of mind for the brave hearted
I confess, I hate to lose.
My achievements (C.N.A in my possession) were disregarded.
My conflicts, far from personal, were for the sake of truth and the operational performance.
The drop of water that has made the vase overflow was the subordination of the Air Staff to the economic and political contingencies at the expense of the aircrew.
I confess, I had tight contacts with the U.S.A.F.
My contacts were born from my opposition to the E.C.M. program (external pods) the Military Assistance Advisory Group (M.A.A.G) was trying to sel. My feasibility study outlined an internal system combining active and passive measures. Under the lead of the M.A.A.G., I gave a presentation to the SHAPE and later on to the PENTAGON. This made my reputation in the U.S.A.F. circles.
I confess, I was in favour of an American fighter
My experience with the "old" F-104, the problems I encountered with the "new" MIRAGE at the Service des Essais en vol (S.E.V.), the complacency of the Air Staff for the so called "French Culture" to the detriment of a safe aircraft and an adequate weapons system, made me lean for an American fighter aircraft.
I confess, I was in favour of the F16
My aerodynamic knowledge made me understand that "relax static stability" was a big step forward in aerospace design. We were facing a fighter pilot dream aircraft, as nimble as the Spitfire and as powerful as the Starfighter.
The Belgian mafia — a revenge ?
When I was commanding 350, Jean Luc Beghin, a cartoonist for the magazine "SPIROU", visited the squadron. He became a squadron fan and helped us to launch the aerobatic team "The Slivers". We made him honorary squadron member and he ended up to be a very close personal friend. When I was in charge of the aircraft testing, I shared with him my frustratation regarding the handling of the MIRAGE deficiencies. This took place when the struggle for the F-104 replacement made the headlines of the News.

The support of KNACK and of the Flemish side of the Air Force
Jean Luc introduced me to Frank De Moor, a KNACK journalist, at the Aviation Press Club. I put him aware of the problems I encountered with the MIRAGE V. On the other hand, Frank requested our help to clear up his doubts about the M.O.D. substantiation pro-Mirage F-1.
He thought its reports were truncated to the detriment of the other contenders. To clear up his suspicion we puted him in contact with the Military Assistance Advisory Group of the U.S. Embassy (M.A.A.G.) in order for him to be briefed on the formal Steering Committee conclusion.
Officialy, the real report of the Steering Committee leaked from Flemish informers in the government and in the Air Force (Brothers Van Rafelghem). Before going public, Frank needed the M.O.D. pro-Mirage report to foil the liar. One of the draft formulated in the Ministry of Defense, found its way to the offices of Knack. The staff of Knack, comparing it to the Steering Committee report, found its conclusions slanted.

KNACK decided there was material to publish
Extracts of The Flemish counteroffensive [ " The Knack Affair " ARMS DEAL Ingemar Dörfer ]
The Mirage V aircraft of the Belgian Air Force are not yet operational; there is much doubt as to their efficiency.
The M.O.D. fighters comparison report is truncated.
- In essence, the national report submitted to the Parliamentary Political Committee by the cabinet of the Defense Ministry was said to have adjusted the figures to favour the Mirage.
- The figures differed considerably from those in the final report of the Steering Committee.
- The differences in performance between the aircraft were not underlined, since all the aircraft according to the Ministry, met the requirements of the Belgian Air Force.


In January 1976, I joined GENERAL DYNAMICS and said official farewell to the Chief of Staff. His goodbye was:

It's a pity you have chosen the wrong side !