The Belgian Air Force has a new ambassador for the 2022 air shows. Senior Captain Steven De Vries ‘Vrieske’ has extensive experience with the F-16. He is the first Belgian pilot to have flown more than 5,000 hours on this aircraft and one of the few in the world.
Authors: Benoit Denet & Martin Gillet
Kleine Brogel, June 9th, 2022.
On a fine evening, Vrieske and his Team revealed the Team and their Demo F-16 paint scheme, with great pride and excitement.
Vrieske started his career at BAF in 1990 and was posted to 23 Sqn in Kleine-Brogel. He was later transferred to 31 Sqn Tiger. He has a wealth of combat experience, including over Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Vrieske: “The Belgian Air Force has continuously demonstrated the capabilities of the F-16 for many years through the performance of 19 different pilots without interruption. We are very proud of this in the AF. I am the 19th pilot and my team is the 19th to support the solo display. It’s our goal to show the youngsters, but not only the youngsters, what the AF can do. We have to bring the dream to all the people. My team consists of a Team Manager, Team Chief, Crews Chiefs, Weapons technicians, PAO and coaches.
For me, this career as a pilot started when I read an article in a newspaper: how to become an F-16 pilot? I said to myself let’s go for it! We started with the air cadets and as soon as possible we went to the airshows. This is one of the messages we want to convey through the FA-87 show, the dream can come true.
I would also like to thank everyone who helped and supported me.”
Vrieske then proceeded with a short introduction of his Team.
The freshly painted F16 then came out in style from the shelter where it was parked.
Vrieske and his team then conveyed to the line in order to get set up for the departure, in fair sunset light.
During his demonstration, Vrieske showed the power of the F-16 and performed numerous manoeuvres with negative Gs.
The aircraft’s livery for this year is inspired by the name “VIPER” which is the popular name in the community for the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The “Dream Viper” season is underway with the motto ‘Eyes on the Prize’.
You can find all the VIPER / Vrieske Agenda here. Vrieske will also be in Belgium, during the F1 Grand Prix and at Sanicole Airshow (September 10th-11th 2022) for example. Certainly, a very good occasion to seize in order to see one of a kind demo.
Also, if not already done, make sure to follow Belgian Air Force F-16 Solo Solo Display Page.
*Bonus* Courtesy Robin’s Belgian Air Force F-16 Solo Display team photographer, a great “behind the scene” footage.