The airbase of Florennes is well-known and often visited by enthusiasts, because of the regular TLP exercises. The TLP left Florennes for Albacete, Spain, in June 2009. Once in a while the resident 1 squadron will organise a RecceMeet for all European squadrons specialized in reconnaissance to train together and exchange procedures. Furthermore, the based Fighting Falcons are not shy of some flying either.
In 1993 a spotters corner was established near the western approach. However, this corner was not much more than a small mound of soil and a few signs leading to it. No further infrastructure was ever added and most evidence of its existence has meanwhile disappeared. Nowadays, Florennes has a few interesting spotting points but many of them require some effort to reach. A dedicated TLP ramp is situated centrally, south of the shorter runway. Opposite on the northern side is another ramp used for larger TLP aircraft, like an E-3. The resident F-16s have a platform in the south eastern corner, and two shelter areas. The northern runway is normally used for all fixed-wing movements.
From most directions, the quickest approach will be via the A4/E411 between Brussels and Luxembourg. Take exit 20, and follow the N97 past Dinant towards Philippeville. You will enter our map from the right. From the west, there is a choice of several roads, via or towards Philippeville in most cases. The road situation around Charleroi is somewhat complicated and can result in delays.
To drive here via the N97, take the turnoff for the N977 to Corenne when in Rosée, then the left hand-side at the junction. From the north, take the small road to the right after leaving Corenne, where the main road ascends towards Rosée. Although the road that crosses the approach lights is quite narrow, spotters usually park in the verge just clear of the crops. This will leave room for cars to pass in one direction at a time. Nobody objects to this; let us keep it that way by respectful behaviour. The situation at the actual spot is self-explanatory: a view from the south on arrivals for 26R. Additionally, the TLP ramp can be seen in the distance, with an approximate 30 degree angle on the fighter's noses and tails.
Spot 2 is situated closer to the touch-down point and taxiway of 26R. It has to be reached on foot, by walking an often muddy track at the very edge of the field, along the fence. Again, this is tolerated by authorities and the farmer whose land this is and we must be sure not to damage the crops, for all to remain happy. The farmer chose to charge 5 Euro after an incident recently, but did not do so some days later. Steps are advised to shoot over the fence, and landing shots are generally OK like that. Taxiing aircraft can be partly shielded if the grass is high, which it often is, although at this moment the taxiway in front has been closed. If they stay low enough, and many TLP participants do, departures from 08L can be photographed here as well. To do so, 400mm effective on a (D)SLR are advised. Finally, the angle and distance for reading serials on the TLP ramp are better here than at spot 1, although the distance is still respectable. Be aware that after rain, the track is hard to walk and shoes and clothing will be ready for cleaning following a visit to spot 2 or 3.
Continuing along the fence from spot 2, with the same cautions as mentioned above, will bring you to spot 3. From here, one looks in between some shrubberies onto the taxiway, from an elevated position. The advantage for photo's is clear, but the light will often only be good in the morning. Bring steps and some 300mm effective for the best shots. As you are trespassing on farmer's land, be kind to the crops. The farmer chose to charge 5 Euro after an incident recently, but did not do so some days later.
When driving here from the eastern spots, use the N975 north of the base and take a sharp left at the T junction in Florennes. Opposite the former main gate, follow the road to the right and you will pass the present BAF gate, with sign to the 'Spitfire Museum'. Continue southbound towards Chaumont, to the junction next to the passage under the old railroad. From the southwest, drive into Chaumont and use said railroad passage to continue towards the base. Enter the concrete-plated (deteriorated) road parallel to the approach lights and you will arrive at spot 4, with a direct view onto the beginning of 08R. At times, this will be used to park aircraft, notably transports on TLP support. They can usually be read off and photographed. More of the base can be seen in the distance, including the beginning of 08L.
To get here, one has to walk from spot 4. Parking along the Rue de Chaumont to walk from there is not advised, as it will cause problems for road traffic. Like on the other side, the availability of this spot depends on farmers' tolerance. To say the obvious, leave nothing but footprints behind and close fences when entering or leaving meadows! Naturally, after periods of rain the hike on this side of the field is a muddy experience as well. Oh, and prepare to deal with curious cattle, including bulls at times... Reading serials of incoming planes can be done well from here. Photographers have a choice of shooting at close range but at a high angle or a more favourable angle from a bit further away, where the terrain is higher than near the runway. Recommended lenses are 300-400mm effective.
For a complete, but quite distant, overview of the TLP ramp and even a look into the TLP hangar if it is open, proceed to this spot. To read off numbers, bring at least a 60x scope and preferably a tripod. From spot 1, drive into Corenne and turn right, uphill. In front of the church, turn left towards Biesmerée and continue to the edge of the forest. Looking back, you will see part of the base including the TLP area.
7Rue de Jusaine
This rough field road runs over the higher terrain south of the base, and at its highest point offers a view on the F-16 line north of it. Even on weekends, the fighters are often parked outside. However, a wall has been constructed along the line, shielding the closest jets nearly to the top of the fuselage. Getting the numbers is not hampered with serials on the tail plane.
The TLP gate or 'la Clairiere' gate is where the preserved Mirage can be seen, behind the guards. This is also the usual entry point for spotter's days.
When visiting Florennes, do not forget to drive to this roundabout where the N97 and N98 meet, if you want to see the preserved Thunderstreak. It is pole-mounted in the middle of the roundabout and pointed towards the base entry.
One of the best spots is spot number one. Light is good almost all day. (Frank Noort)
Spot 3 is a bit of a walk but worth it, when looking for a clear view of taxiing aircraft. (Frank Noort)
|234.800 / 257.800||Tower|
|122.100||Ground / Tower|
|362.300 / 372.275||Approach|
|231.450 / 243.400||PAR|
|377.800 / 123.300||PAR|
|278.475 / 129.325||Belga Radar|
|BA22||Mirage 5BA at gate|
|FU154/UR-S||F-84F at roundabout of N97-N98 junction|
|Plus many stored, dumped and instructional aircraft on base.|
|Belgian Air Component|