50 Years of 306 squadron 

Volkel Air Base, the Netherlands

26 September 2003


Volkel Air Base in the Netherlands, one of the three F-16 Main Operating Bases in the country, is home to three squadrons flying this type. One of these is 306 sq which celebrated it's 50th anniversary during 2003. 

Having formed on Republic F-84 Thunderjets in 1953 at Volkel, 306 sq has been a dedicated reconnaisance squadron for most of it's carreer. The unit converted to RF-84F Thunderflashes during 1956/1957. During the 1950's, the squadron flew from such bases as Volkel, Bückeburg (Germany) and Laarbruch (Germany) until returning to the Netherlands and Deelen Air Base in 1957. RF-104G Starfighters replaced the RF-84F's in 1963 which coincided with a move to Twenthe. A last move to Volkel followed in 1969. Finally, F-16A(R)'s replaced the Starfighters during 1984. 

In 2002, 306 sq lost it's recce role which was now became part of the daily tasking of 322 sq (Leeuwarden), 315 sq (Twenthe) and 311 sq (Volkel). Instead, 306 sq became the F-16 Theater Conversion Unit for F-16 trainee pilots returning from the United States. 

The squadron's 50th anniversary was celebrated on 26 September 2003. Good custom during such events is one of the host unit's mounts receiving a special paint job. Frequent depolyments abroad to trouble spots like the former Yugoslavia and more recently Central Asia now prevent the Air Force from applying such colourful schemes to single seater F-16AM's. For this reason, F-16BM two seater J-270 was given this much enlarged version of the unit insingia complete with fitting text.

The Belgian Air Force from nearby Kleine Brogel Air Base took part in the celebrations and sent F-16AM FA-122, still resplendent in the unit's 2001 Tiger Meet paint scheme. It is one of two F-16's from 31 squadron to have worn a Tiger Meet paint scheme during 2003. Sadly, this jet was lost on 9 December in a collision with the squadron's other "Tiger" F-16, FA-93. Even more sadly this cost the life of one of the pilots.

The Starfighter is of course no stranger to Volkel. For nearly 20 years, the F-104G operated from this base. Last in the world to fly Starfighters is the Italian Air Force. The Aeronautica Militare's 4 Stormo took TF-104GM MM54556/4-47 to Volkel. This may have been the last visit of this classic fighter to the Netherlands, for the AMI is to retire the Starfighter during 2004.


Volkel often sees visitors from the French Air Force, 306's jubilee was no exception. One of the two French guests during the event was Mirage 2000B 515/5-OG. The jet is part of EC 2/5 from Orange-Caritat.  

Another French Mirage two make the trek to Volkel was this Mirage 2000D 613/3-XU from EC 3/3 based at Nancy-Ochey. 

This PC.7 might have felt a bit out of place among all the heavy metal. Nevertheless, it's pilot might as an instructor have flown on F-16's with 306 sq. 

306 squadron's anniversary day was blessed with excellent weather, one of the last good weather days during 2003's sunny summer. This, and Volkel's hospitality towards aviation photographers this day made for a nice day out for many people.

Thanks go to Volkel's PR department and the Spotting Group Volkel for making this possible.



All pictures (c) Hans Rolink.