Sud Aviation SE-3160 Alouette III (A-465) as used by the "Koninklijke Luchtmacht" (RNLAF) Grasshoppers Demo Team
at the Military Aviation Museum, Kamp Zeist (the Netherlands)
The "Grasshoppers" were a Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) helicopter display team. The Grasshoppers history first began in the spring of 1973, when four Alouette III pilots from the 299 Squadron at Deelen Air Base decided to perform a demonstration on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the RNLAF at Deelen. The team's helicopters were painted in overall dark matt green with yellow fuselage panels and the Grasshoppers name carried below the sliding doors. The first 'official' demonstration of the Grasshoppers aerobatic team occurred on 5 June 1974 during
the "Dag van de Luchtmacht" (Air Force Day) held at Duindigt. In 1978, the team performed abroad for the first time at the USAFE Hahn Air Base in West Germany. The following next year, the team received a official status as a RNLAF display team. The Grasshoppers Alouette III helicopters were now painted in overall dark matt green but with vertical white stripes. The team were also now attached to the 300 Squadron at Deelen Air Base for logistical reasons, as the 299 Squadron had transitioned to the BO-105C helicopter. In 1980, the team received its final and most famous paint scheme of overall red, white and blue colours (as seen in the photo). In 1982, the team's helicopters were equipped with smoke generators.
In 1995, with the retirement of the Alouette III helicopter from the RNLAF, the Grasshoppers aerobatic display team was disbanded.
The Aerospatiale Alouette III is a single-engine, light utility helicopter developed by Sud Aviation. The Alouette III is the successor to the Alouette II, being larger and having more seating. The first version of the Alouette III, the SE-3160 prototype, first flew on 28 February 1959.
The SA-316A (SE-3160) entered production in 1961 and remained in production until 1968, when it was replaced by the SA-316B.
The last and 1437th Alouette III left the Marignane assembly lines in 1979, when the main production line in France was closed down.
The last Alouette III from Aerospatiale was delivered in 1985.