Twisted Steel with a Story – Leisure

In Belgium, around 6 to 7000 aircraft have crashed since the beginning of aviation history. Most during the world wars. The exhibition ‘About flying, falling … and digging up’ tells the story of Belgian aviation and of some wrecks hidden in Flemish fields.

Belgium played an important role in the development of aviation. This is immediately apparent from the timeline drawn at the beginning of the exhibition on aeronautical archeology at the Archeocentrum in Velzeke (Zottegem). The oldest document dates from 1784, when a pigeon as an experiment was transported by hot air balloon from Ghent to Parike (Brakel). Belgium is the third country in the world where a plane flew, and during World War I, the Germans built an air base for bombers in Scheldewindeke. “After World War I, civil aviation took a big leap, partly under the impetus of colonialism,” says Peter Van der Plaetsen, an archaeologist and passionate about aviation, while showing some seats in the earliest SABENA planes. The first passengers were transported by old German fighter jets from World War I. The hull and engines of this Fokker D.VII are shown at the fair.

Flight ticket from grandfather to Florian van Messerschmitt © GF

Women in aviation

The timeline also places particular emphasis on the importance of women in aviation history. “Their role is often underestimated. During the wars, female pilots were not often deployed on operational missions, but they flew the planes from the factory to the front, or they were test pilots of new planes,” Van der Plaetsen said.

Helene Dutrieu, GF
Hélène Dutrieu © GF

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In Belgium we also had Hélène Dutrieu. In addition to being a cyclist and stuntwoman, she was also one of the best pilots in the world in the early 20th century, and she flew reconnaissance flights over Paris.

Excavation of wreckage

Because Belgium was at the crossroads between the warring powers during both world wars, many planes also crashed in our region. A number of important places are explained. “In fact, there has only been one protocol since 2010 on how to scientifically excavate crashed planes. Many wreckage ended up with the population after the war and served as fences or even as chicken farms. But even now we are still doing important excavations, but we have still been in able to excavate them. as in Schendelbeke (Geraardsbergen), where three more missing crew members could be found. “

Especially for the exhibition, the Archaeological Team of the Belgian Aviation History Association (BAHAAT) carried out extensive archaeological research of a crash site in Zwalm. The small parts and ammunition that were found are given a place of honor and two sharp nineties, which then crashed, tell their story.

About flying, falling … and digging up. Aviation archeology in Flanders, from 20/5/2022 to 17/9/2023 in the Archeocentrum Velzeke. Tuesday-Friday at 9-17. WE and public holidays, at 13-17. A guide is available every Sunday afternoon. archeocentrumvelzeke.be

Belgium played an important role in the development of aviation. This is immediately apparent from the timeline drawn at the beginning of the exhibition on aeronautical archeology at the Archeocentrum in Velzeke (Zottegem). The oldest document dates from 1784, when a pigeon as an experiment was transported by hot air balloon from Ghent to Parike (Brakel). Belgium is the third country in the world where a plane flew, and during World War I, the Germans built an air base for bombers in Scheldewindeke. “After World War I, civil aviation took a big leap, partly under the impetus of colonialism,” says Peter Van der Plaetsen, an archaeologist and passionate about aviation, while showing some seats in the earliest SABENA aircraft. The first passengers were transported by old German fighter jets from the First World War. The expo shows the fuselage and engines of this Fokker D.VII. The timeline also draws extra attention to the importance of women in the history of aviation. “Their role is often underestimated. During the wars, female pilots were not often deployed on operational missions, but they flew the planes from the factory to the front, or they were test pilots of new planes,” Van der Plaetsen said. also Hélène Dutrieu. In addition to being a cyclist and stuntwoman, she was also one of the best pilots in the world in the early 20th century and flew reconnaissance flights over Paris. Because Belgium was at the crossroads between the warring powers during both world wars, many planes crashed also down in our own. A number of important places are explained. “In fact, there has only been one protocol since 2010 on how to scientifically excavate crashed planes. Many wreckage ended up with the population after the war and served as fences or even as chicken farms. But even now we are still doing important excavations, but we have still been in able to excavate them. such as in Schendelbeke (Geraardsbergen), where three more missing crew members could be found. ” Specifically for the exhibition, the Belgian Aviation History Association Archeology Team (BAHAAT) conducted a comprehensive archaeological study of an accident site in Zwalm. The small parts and ammunition that were found are given a place of honor and two sharp nineties, which then crashed, tell their story.

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