Technology Base proves ideal testing ground

For years, Twenthe Air Base was a problem case for the region. Although it provided many jobs and benefited the regional economy, resistance in the region was strong. Especially after an F16 crashed into a Hengelo residential area on February 11, 1992; without any casualties, by the way. Relief was great when, years later, the Ministry of Defense decided to disband. The land (480 hectares) was transferred to the province of Overijsel and municipality of Enschede (the current shareholders).

We still owe the airbase to the Germans, who in World War II developed the small field into a serious airbase with barracks and officer housing. The Dutch Air Force took over the site after the war, left the German buildings standing and built hangars and shelters for F16s. It never really succeeded in establishing serious civil aviation. There was, however, an airline with Amsterdam for a few years and regular flights to Paris at the request of the Hengelo company Signaal (now Thales) which has a French parent company. In addition, there were vacation flights especially in the summer. With the air cargo and teaching aircraft, things really seemed to take off in Twente. And that the military embraced the civilian air was evident when the runway was extended to nearly three kilometers (one of the longest in the Netherlands). Not really necessary for the F16s, but this allows virtually all aircraft to come to Twente.

Exploitation of civil aviation alone was almost impossible in Twente; the military also embraced civil aviation out of self-interest. It was ultimately to no avail; on December 1, 2005, the last F16 flew away from Twente.

In the TwenteVisie an article about how Technology Base has been transformed from former airbase into a center of innovation, creativity and nature. Technology Base is an innovative and shielded business park cum airport where entrepreneurs can test and produce new inventions. After years of planning and preparation, the organization is ready to cash in on the opportunities and attract employment. Twente Airport (part of Technology Base) offers opportunities for test airport, aircraft assembly, storage and maintenance/repair and business aviation. There are also plenty of opportunities for clean and electric flying, says Schuring, director of Technology Base and also acting director of the airport. Twente Airport is home to Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions (AELS) and TKH Airport Solutions, among others. Because, to be clear, there will still be flights to and from Twente Airport. In addition to business air traffic, there is recreational flying by members of the Vliegclub Twente and the Twentsche Zweefvlieg Club.

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