Elementary Flying School
THE ABANDONED MILITARY SITE IN BELGIUM
‘Elementary Flying School’ was the flight school of the Belgian army. 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.
Goetsenhoven Airfield was one of the first airfields of Belgian military aviation. It was built in 1922 as a grass airfield. It was the home of Group II flying the ‘Ansaldo A.300’ and ‘Havilland DH.9.’. On the outbreak of the Second World War on 10 May 1940, the airfield was bombed by the Luftwaffe, causing the resident units to divert to other airfields. Aircraft that were not destroyed, ultimately ended up in France. The airfield was only used as a diversion airfield by the Luftwaffe. Near the end of the war the Air Base was bombed once again, this time by the USAAF.
After the war Goetsenhoven was totally rebuilt, a metal runway was removed and the airfield returned to its prewar configuration as a grass airfield. It took until 1950 to reopen the air base, at which time the ‘Elementary Flying School’ was moved in from Schaffen Air Base. In 1969 new aircrafts were bought for the school, this was a major upgrade to the Air Base, which received two asphalt runways, instead of the grass they had used so far.
In 1996 the EVS moved to Air Base Bevekom, ending the military presence at Goetsenhoven. The place was taken over by the civil aviation that uses the control tower, airstrip and the hangars. The old school buildings and barracks were left abandoned. I visited the ‘Elementary Flying School’ in 2006 and 2015.