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Namur Airfield
from 1944 to the present day

The Namur Airfield is located in the north of the Province of Namur, about 7 km from the city center, near the E411 motorway. Located in an open field at an altitude of 181m, the runway occupies both part of the territory of Temploux and a larger part of Suarlée.

Beginnings

The Namur Airfield is located in the north of the Province of Namur, about 7 km from the city center, near the E411 motorway. Located in an open field at an altitude of 181m, the runway occupies both part of the territory of Temploux and a larger part of Suarlée.

An allied base

In September 1944, in the midst of an Allied offensive campaign, a Piper of kaki green canvas, an American prospecting and reconnaissance aircraft, landed at Temploux. This landing took place in the meadow of the convent of the Sisters of Charity, on the edge of the Namur – Nivelles road, near the crossroads of Saucin. The Americans were looking for land suitable for the creation of a backup base. The Temploux plateau was chosen as an air base…

After the German withdrawal, a robust runway made of sand sheets, of which examples still exist, could accommodate a very large number of planes of all types. The Airfield of the Ninth American Air Force was thus created.
According to the Washington Historical Research Center, the so-called “Namur” Airfield was codenamed “Gangway Advanced”. In addition to its strategic function, this aerodrome had a very specific mission: the repatriation of prisoners. “C47s” that transported 30 to 60 people landed day and night on a well-marked runway.

At the end of the war, by the main entrance, then located on the Nivelles road, the American pilots invited the whole population to visit the installations of their temporary base and their marvellous “flying machines”..

It’s military mission accomplished, the airfield disappeared in 1946 as quickly and as simply as it had been created. A year later, some former pilots, avid aviation enthusiasts, managed to decide the authorities to exploit this site of the Temploux – Suarlée plateau to create a gliding school there.

The “Aéro Club de la Meuse”

A small civilian airfield was therefore developed on the site chosen by the American army in 1944. On June 2, 1947, the “Aero Club of the Meuse” was formed, which was to decide to reopen the Temploux Airfield.

Some modest barracks of planks and sheet metal sheds housed “the Belgian National Gliding School Center”. When the aerodrome was inaugurated, a special tram and bus service was planned. On Saturday June 21, an electric tram left at 7:09 p.m. from Namur. On Sunday, a steam tram augmented the route…

The big Sunday air party was also a success. Vers l’Avenir commented on it: “Time became serene a few minutes before 3:00 pm and everything passed without a single drop of water disturbing the joy of the participants and spectators. During this day, we were able to see successive demonstrations of gliders and individual or group acrobatics. We especially admired the great white French ace, Lieutenant Colonel Norbert Leboutte (brother of the Chief of Staff of Military Aeronautics) and Major Arend who all three worked wonders, turning in all directions, flying upside down, dropping like a leaf dead to make a recovery some 100m from the ground and then pass at high speed at the level of the stands. Groups from the Diest and Brusthem schools, as well as the La Fayette squadron and men from the 349th and 350th at Beauvechain took part. In 1964, he joined the elementary flying school at Gossoncourt, near Tienen, and five years later, he became an instructor at the Plaine de Temploux.
The highlight of Sunday’s show was undoubtedly the descent by radio parachute made by the Frenchman René Vincent. The latter threw himself into the void with a small transmitter station fixed in front of him and spoke of his impressions live as he descended. ”

As of June 23, flying and gliding courses began. As of November, 2,800 winch flights had been completed. After 1948, the modest hangar at the edge of the Aerodrome was succeeded by larger, more attractive facilities. They were to make one of the most welcoming and envied, most active tourism bases. It is under these conditions that with the support of the country’s authorities, the Namur Airfield saw its importance and activity grow, while its location between the roads of Brussels and Nivelles, near the motorway of Wallonia, reserved the broadest prospects for development. The lawyer Devos, first President of the « Aero Club of the Meuse » concluded: “It is under these conditions also that Suarlée, as soon as the weather allows, sees it’s sky more and more crossed by gliders, peaceful birds. It helps to give young people a taste for air and with it the spirit of initiative and daring which, on the roads of the world, will ensure Belgium, in all the fields to which it extends today ‘the plane, the place that belongs to it’.

The Province

The years 1970s and 1971s marked a very important stage in the development of Namur Airfield. The Province proceeds to certain land expropriations. The Economic Office is developed a modernization program for the aerodrome. The “Aerodrome de Namur” ASBL is responsible for promoting the activity. The period from 1970 to 1980 was marked by the realization of numerous investments: a reception building of approximately 900m², three new hangars of more than 3.000m², large parking lots for aircraft, parking for cars and a campsite. These investments were financed by national, regional and provincial credits, as well as by ADEPS.

Despite a definite public interest in the Namur Aerodrome, its maintenance became very expensive and its lack of profitability soon became too heavy a burden for the provincial authorities, who considered it better to dispose of it. The Aerodrome went on sale and for the first time since 1947, the existence of the was jeopardized …
It would have been difficult to understand why we were ending a series of activities which constituted an undeniable tourist attraction and which also constituted a tool for economic development. It would have been absurd to close a well-equipped aerodrome.

Privatisation

The aerodrome was privatized at the end of 1983, to be effective on January 2, 1984. By getting involved in the economic recovery of the site, the new managers worked to provide the Aerodrome with a new image better suited to the movement of the great leisure time. The realization of various aeronautical and tourist programs, and a change to a vigorous and optimistic mentality made their appearance …

Three clubs, the Namur Wings, the Para-Club of Namur, the Private Pilot Association, Publi-Air, Air-Technic, more than 1,500 visitors per year will have totaled more than 130,000 movements in this year.

For 33 years, Namur Airfield was managed by the Bertrand family. Gliders (Cap Vol à Voile and CEVV), helicopters (Best in Sky), planes (private, Aeromotion and Bouxair) and skydivers (Para Club de Namur) are always the joy of the many visitors who come to the site the Aerodrome…

In July 2017, three people bought the Airfield from “Chabichou” and Alain Bertrand. Olivier de Spoelberch, Vanina Ickx and Benjamin de Broqueville are now in charge of the Airfield with Herbert, the Airfield Commander and Catherine.
The objective is to continue to develop EBNM on a daily basis and make it one of the most beautiful aerodromes in Europe…