The Dutch air base at Gilze- Rijen has celebrated its centenary.
March 11: The Dutch air base at Gilze- Rijen celebrated its centenary with a ceremony attended by the Defence Secretary Jack de Vries.
Military use of the area dates back to 1831 when an army camp was established with the first Dutch Air Wing forming at Gilze-Rijen on March 11, 1910. Alongside the military field a civilian aerodrome was added, known as Airport Molenheide, the first airport in the Netherlands.
In the First World War the squadrons based at the airfield patrolled the Belgian border and during the Second World War it was significantly expanded by the occupying German forces and was subject to many bombing raids by the Allied forces.
Post-war the airfield has served as a training base, hosted NF-5 and F-16 fighters and is today home for the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s fleet of attack and support helicopters, comprising Apache, Cougar and Chinook units.
Gilze-Rijen will host this year’s annual air force airshow on June 18 and 19.