The culmination of the 2013 European airshow season saw the last display by Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon demo pilot Capt Stefan ‘Stitch’ Hutten, who has completed a successful two-year tenure on the team. Evert Keijzer guest reports for GAR.
Capt Stefan ‘Stitch’ Hutten, Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) 312 Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon demo pilot, has flown his last airshow display. The well known and respected ‘Orange Lion’ has received many positive reactions during his two-year stint as a display pilot operating from Volkel AB. In this time, the Team visited 14 counties and flew over 120 displays.
The Dutch F-16 is a very photogenic machine, with a vivid, clever design that incorporates an old fashioned orange lion symbol on the aircraft’s upper and lower wings, stretching over the fuselage. This design is only visible when the jet is performing its display or in flight, adding an extra surprise for first-time spectators. The RNLAF motto (“One team, one mission“) is spread over the F-16’s rear stabilisers.
The home base of the RNLAF F-16 Demo Team shifts between Volkel AB and Leeuwarden AB every two years. Hopefully the airshow-going public will once again enjoy the jet noise provided by the Dutch F-16 from 2014 to 2016, as the aircraft and its new pilot operate from Leeuwarden AB.
On the Team’s website, Capt Hutten has posted a personal message to the Team’s many fans:
”I was amazed by the enthusiasm of YOU during all those events. Words cannot describe the feeling to fly one of the most advanced fighters today in front of hundreds of thousands of people. Your support, kindness and energy made us smile, every day!”
He also points out the fact that butget cuts are still threatening airshows, and military demonstration teams, saying that even for the RNLAF, the future is unkown; we should be sure to enjoy the Dutch F-16 Demo Team while we can!
The author wishes to thank Capt Hutten and the RNLAF for their time and assistance.