De Havilland Canada U-6A Beaver (PH-DHC / S-9 / 55-4585) from the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight Foundation
at the Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Days 2008, Leeuwarden (the Netherlands)
The Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight Foundation, in Dutch "Stichting Koninklijke Luchtmacht Historische Vlucht" (SKHV), was first started in 1969 as an aero club (Stichting Vliegsport Gilze-Rijen) by a group of former Air Force and Navy fighter pilots. The commander of the Gilze-Rijen Air Base at that time supported the renovation of a small hangar in which a Harvard and a Piper Super Cub were restored. The initial aim of this aero club was to provide private pilots with the possibility of advanced flying training. In the following years several historical aircraft were added to the fleet after having been carefully restored to an airworthy condition. From 1976 onwards the club has dedicated itself to the restoration and the maintenance of propeller-driven aircraft formerly used by the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Navy. In 1998 the Stichting Vliegsport Gilze-Rijen and the Dutch Spitfire Flight merged to form the Royal Netherlands Air Force Historical Flight (SKHV) thereby bringing the only airworthy Dutch Spitfire and a Beaver into the collection. On September 24th 2004, during the 35th anniversary, the merge of the Duke of Brabant Air Force (DBAF) and the SKHV was announced. Since then the DBAF flag-ship, the B-25 Mitchell, has been part of the SKHV fleet. During the past few decades the SKHV has grown into a leading aircraft museum with a unique collection of airworthy historical military propeller-driven aircraft. The professional and enthusiastic contributions of the many volunteers and the co-operation with the RNLAF (Royal Netherlands Air Force) is the sound basis of its existence.
In 1947, the Canadian branch of de Havilland developed an all-metal, high-wing monoplane with semi-cantilever wings, which was especially suited for the Canadian "bush" area, where it was often necessary to operate from small and rather bumpy fields. The Beaver, therefore, is a sturdy machine that can take off from small airfields and likewise needs only a limited landing-run. The prototype made its maiden flight on 16 August 1947. In the Netherlands the Beaver was assigned, at Valkenburg at the end of 1956, to 334 (Transport) Squadron, which subsequently moved to Ypenburg. In 1966 the Beavers were transferred to 300 Squadron at Deelen, which formed part of the Light Aircraft Group (GPLV). The planes were used for a variety of tasks, such as transport missions, liaison flights and the like. When, in winter-time, the Wadden islands were isolated, the Air Force Beavers took care of the daily mail- and passenger communications with the mainland, just as the Austers had done previously! During very severe winters the aircraft were also used to feed birds trapped in the ice that were not able to feed themselves. The Beaver can also be adapted for carrying sick or injured people; sufficient room for two stretchers is available. The Beaver was occasionally used for dropping paratroopers.