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Goetsenhoven Airfield

Goetsenhoven Military Airfield (ICAO: EBTN) is a Belgian Air Component base, located 2 miles (3.2 km) south of Tienen (Brabant Provincie), approximately 26 miles (42 km) east-southeast of Brussels (Bruxelles).

The airfield is used as a training facility for Belgian Air Cadets, equipped with six Piper L21B Super Cubs, and several Schleicher K 8B Gliders.

Goetsenhoven Military Airfield
  • IATA: none
  • ICAO: EBTN
Summary
Airport type Military
Operator Belgian Defence (MRC&I) / Federal Police
Location Tienen, Belgium
Elevation AMSL 246 ft / 75 m
Coordinates 50°46′54″N
004°57′28″E
Map

Location in Belgium

Runways
Direction Length Surface
m ft
17/35
779
2,556
Asphalt
06/24
655
2,149
Asphalt
Sources: Belgian AIP

History

Goetsenhoven Airfield was one of the first airfields of Belgian military aviation. It was built in 1922 as a grass airfield by the Belgian Air Force (Aéronautique Militaire Belge). Its early use was that of observation aircraft of II Group, consisting of 10 Ansaldo A.300 or DH.9 Biplanes.

On 1 November 1939, as part of the wartime buildup, three squadrons of British built Fairey Fox III fighter/bombers with Nos. 3 (II Group), 5 (III Group) and 7 (IV Group) squadrons were assigned to the airfield as part of the 2e Régiment d'Aéronautique (2nd Air Regiment-Air Combat). In addition to the combat units, Goetsenhoven was also a Basic Flight School (Ecole de Pilotage Elémentaire) for the Belgian Air Force, equipped with Stampe SV.4s.

World War II

On 10 May 1940, Goetsenhoven was attacked by the Luftwaffe as part of the initial German attack on Belgium, killing several personnel and destroying some aircraft, and was seized by the Wehrmacht within a few days later. The Goetsenhoven squadrons hastily retreated to other airfields with the remaining planes. They were eventually evacuated to France. During the occupation of Belgium, the airfield was used by the Luftwaffe as a reserve airfield; no Luftwaffe units were stationed there.

In late October 1944, the airfield was attacked by USAAF Ninth Air Force B-26 Marauder medium bombers and P-47 Thunderbolts with 500-pound General-Purpose bombs, unguided rockets, and .50 caliber machine gun sweeps to ensure that any German forces at the base were neutralized. Allied ground forces moved into the Tienen area around 20 October and the first American combat engineer units arrived at the airfield shortly afterward.

The USAAF IX Engineering Command 862d Engineer Aviation Battalion laid down a 3600' all weather Pierced Steel Planking runway at Goetsenhoven, and rehabilitated some of the buildings for operational use for combat units. On 26 October the airfield was declared operationally ready and was designated as Advanced Landing Ground "Y-10", also being known as "Le Culot/East Airfield". Shortly after the airfield opened, the 9th AF 371st Fighter Group moved there with P-47 Thunderbolt fighters. remaining until 20 December.

Once the American combat units moved out, Goetsenhoven became a transport airfield for C-47 Skytrains, which flew frequently in and out of the American controlled airfield, supplying the front line forces with the necessary materiel to support their advance. On return flights to the rear area, casualty evacuation was performed by the transports.

At the end of the war Goetsenhoven was returned to Belgian control by the Americans on 25 June 1945.

Postwar use

After the war Goetsenhoven was totally rebuilt, with the metal runway being removed and the airfield returned to its prewar configuration as a grass airfield. It was reopened in 1950, and became the basis of the ESS (Elementary Flying School). In 1969 the flight training was upgraded to the SIAI Marchetti Aermacchi SF.260. Also, two all-weather asphalt runways were laid down on the site, replacing the grass runway.

In 1996 the flight training of the Belgian Air Force was centralized at Beauvechain Air Base, and the formal military presence came to an end at Goetsenhoven.

Besides the EVS during the weekends, the airport is also used by the local flying club De Wouw, following the closure of the ESS was working with engine and gliders. The airport is not open for flying on days that is also used by the Olympia Tiense Wielerschool for the training of young cyclists.

Presently two large hangars and a few support buildings comprise the airfield. Behind the hangars is the former military airbase, rebuilt after the war and closed in 1996. It is mostly in a state of decay and disuse.



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