Leeuwarden is the home base of one remaining squadron F-16s. There used to be two, plus the SAR flight with bright yellow-coloured Agusta Bell 412s. Unfortunately, two out of three units have fallen to budgetary restrictions. Leeuwarden is a good base to spot at, as there is plenty of traffic and some good places to take pictures. Best times are of course during Frisian Flag and during the Fighter Weapon Instructor Training exercises. All this has one disadvantage: many spots are on farmers' lands, and they obviously do not appreciate disturbance to their business. So, stay out of all the fields around the base, people may really get angry if they see you on their property.
The base has two runways, the main one is southwest-northeast (redesignated 05/23 from 06/24 mid October 2013) and the secondary and shorter one is east-west. There is a taxiway all around the base with dispersals and shelters along it.
You can take a couple of buses from the main railway station in Leeuwarden. Take a bus to Jelsum for spots 1 to 3 and to Marssum for spots 4 and 5.
Around the Airport
1Northeast side approach
This spot covers both the landings of 27 and 23. Runway 23 is mostly used for landings from this side. Along the busy N357 road you can stand on both sides of the runway centreline, so the sun will never be a problem. Park your car on the small road next to the N357 and position yourself along this small road. You can also cross this quite busy road and position yourself near the gate leading to a meadow. Do not cross this gate unless authorized by the farmer himself. If so, position yourself along the small creek, never in the middle of the field and leave this field after the aircraft have landed. In the late afternoon, you can proceed to the small road to the left, called Pieter Rindersreedsje. There is a parking spot here as well.
2East side approach
For runway 27, park your car at the minor road next to the N357. Cross the road and look for the dirt road which used to be a railroad. Follow this disused railroad towards a gate at your right. Cross this gate to the base fence via another gate. Now take a left and walk along the fence towards the beginning of runway 27. This is an excellent spot for photography as this part of the runway is also used as taxiway from the south parkings towards runway 23. However take some steps with you to look over the fence. For landings on 23, you can walk along the fence towards the beginning of runway 23 and position yourself here, again with some steps.
At the main gate, a couple of aircraft are preserved. Unfortunately, they are located behind the gate and only the Meteor can be seen from the outside.
4Southwest side approach
On the other side of the base, there is an official spotter's location. You can park your car here and make great shots of the aircraft from the small hill. You can also go enter the farmers' field and make close-up landing shots. The spotter's corner is situated just southeast of the short final of runway 05. It is on a small road, just outside the village of Marssum. You can also shoot aircraft taxiing on the taxiway but these are pretty far away and lighting conditions are not always good. Furthermore, some serials of aircraft on the south apron can be read from this position.
5West side approach
The other spot on this side is along the taxiway, close to runway 09. Aircraft coming from the 322/North side of the base use the taxiway here to get to runway 05 or the taxi back after landing on 23. Good photo opportunities exist, especially in the afternoon, but take some steps with you.
Morning missions give the best light for landing shots at spot 4.
F-16 taxiing via 27 towards runway 23, seen from spot 2. (Ben Uffen)
|344.850 / 120.705||Tower|
|122.100||Arrival / Director / RAPCON North|
|337.000 / 132.030||Arrival / RAPCON North|
|328.025 / 241.625||322sq / 323sq Operations|
|363.200 / 291.175||WingOps OCC / 303sq Ops|
|132.350 / 264.325||Dutch Mil (Outside tower hours)|
|98+62/'56 red'||Su-20, on base near operations building, in Soviet colours|
|D-8318||F-104G, inside gate on pole|
|I-320||Meteor T7, inside gate, temporarily stored|
|J-228||F-16A, inside gate, on pole|
|N-138||Hunter F4, inside gate on pole|
|'804'||MiG-21SPS on base near operations building. Ex 22+40|
|AGL||The homepage of the Aviation Group Leeuwarden|