Airshow in a time of pandemic – Sanicole show sheds some light on its 42nd edition

Although most of aviation events that were initially planned for the first half of the 2021 season were already cancelled (or turned into online broadcasting), organizers of air shows scheduled for July and beyond are still continue their work – filled with hope that all restrictions would be lifted, allowing those shows to take place as intended.

The Sanicole International Airshow team has recently unveiled their secrets, telling us how the air show organized at a time of pandemic might look like. In 2021, the annual aviation weekend at Sanicole aeroclub was scheduled for 10th – 12th September – and all indications are that it will be held as planned.

However, this time it will be a bit different show than we are used to. First of all, there will be a limited number of visitors, only 7,500 per day. In addition, all spectators will be fully seated this year. Yes, this means the spectators will not be able to freely choose they favourite spot at the airfield – the visitors´ area will be divided in sectors and every guest will have his/her permanent seat.

And to dispel any doubts, this will not mean the visitors are not allowed to move around. As usual, catering and sanitary facilities will be present at the spot, sales stands available as we are used to see at air shows, and also a special zone for kids. However all those attractions will be accessible only with respecting social distance rules and other health safety measures.

In order to allow the largest possible number of spectators to attend the show, Sanicole weekend will this year include three displays, instead of usual two. There will be an additional air show day on Saturday, in addition to traditional Friday and Sunday events. In this way, a total number of visitors will be capped at 22,500.

A109 Display Team – Sanicole Sunset 2019

According to the organizer, tickets for the 42nd edition of Sanicole International Airshow will be available in the middle of June. As usual, the regular visitors of the show, called ´Sanicole insiders´ will have a priority in purchasing them.

Nevertheless, only the Saturday and Sunday shows will have approximately the same programme and participants. The Sanicole Sunset on Friday will have, as usual, a different agenda of flying displays – not mentioning its characteristic and unique atmosphere. In addition, there will be – as already announced – a usual spotter day organized at Kleine-Brogel on Saturday. This year, an open day at ´KeeBee´ will be linked to some interesting anniversaries and held in a Tiger Meet style.

All this creates a situation that has never been here before, when aviation enthusiasts will be faced not only with a choice of particular event, but also they will have to take into consideration the abovementioned limit of attention.

Regarding the air show programme, the organizers already disclosed several participants of both sunset and regular events.

Among them there is Equipe de Voltige, an aerobatic team of the French Air Force, flying Extra 330SC aircraft. It will be followed by a French Navy aircraft – E-2C Hawkeye. Although the Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft are among the regular participants of the Belgian show and spectators were already able to enjoy the giant E-3 Sentry there, the much smaller E-2C Hawkeye will have its premiere at Sanicole.

Patrouille Suisse – Sanicole Sunset 2019

As already mentioned, the open day at Kleine-Brogel this year will be also organized as a meeting of ´Tiger squadrons´, called ´XT-roar-dinary Tigermeet´. Therefore the programme of Sanicole International Airshow will include even more Tiger flying displays than usual. As preparations to the XTM are fully underway now, a detailed list of participants is going to be disclosed later.

In addition, the visitors to 42nd Sanicole air show will be able to see flying displays of Patrouille Suisse jet aerobatic team of the Swiss Air Force and also the Swiss F-18 Hornet solo display. The Czech Air Force has plans to attend the Belgian show with Mi-24/35 attack helicopter, Mi-171 multi-purpose rotorcraft and SAR display of W–3 Sokół. In addition, after a several year break in visiting international aviation events, the Hungarian Air Force is going to show its Gripen fighter in a solo display.

Similarly to the 2015 edition of this event, the evening show on Friday will host one of the most-recognized aerobatic teams in the world – the RAF Red Arrows. This year, the red-painted Hawk training jets will fly at opening of the sunset show.

The 42nd edition of Sanicole International Airshow is shaping up extremely well. And, after a one year gap caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the show is going to return in a big way. Certainly, this is more than a perfect news, as all aviation enthusiasts are eagerly awaiting the roar of military jets and breath-taking aerobatic displays. However, the show is coming back still in the shadow of coronavirus-related restrictions and health measures, that are significantly limiting the joy of attending the aviation event. But perhaps this is exactly the future of air shows and the only way how to organize such a mass public events in the time of pandemic? And we have to wait another year or two for shows without any special limitations, as we were used to for many years?

F/A-18 Hornet, Swiss Air Force – Sanicole Sunset 2015