Frisian Flag is a military exercise held annually in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. It brings together NATO and non-NATO air forces such as Switzerland. It takes place over two weeks between the end of March and the beginning of April.
Leeuwarden is 150 kilometres from Amsterdam, so it’s a nice ride from France. It takes about 6:30 from Paris to reach the destination. The exercise taking place in early spring I can only advise you to keep a good watch on the weather before you hit the road. This is not a meeting or a spotter day. Planes don’t fly on weekends and don’t expect in-flight demonstrations.
To observe the planes you have the choice between the south-west runway threshold located near the village of Marsum or the northeast threshold at Jelsum. If this is your first time, I recommend you prefer Marsum. As you leave the village, taking Bitgumerdyk, you will notice a field where the car park is installed. Admission will cost you 3 euros per car for the day. This is where we notice the Dutch organization. The car park is managed by a spotter asso and the profits go to the farmer who makes the field available.
500m from the car park, you will find the spot of the spotters. It is a permanent installation that allows to spot without problems and especially without being hindered by the fences. When is the same on French bases?The place on the mound is not expandable it is better to arrive early. On the other hand once on the mound, a simple rule is imposed on all (even the Dutch) no stepladder in the front row and in fact you will see little stepladder.
The principle then is simple. the planes take off in waves from 9:30 a.m. and then return to land at 12:00 p.m. Then a second time with take-off at 1:30 p.m. for a landing at 4:00 p.m. No way to miss the take-offs, a bell rings as soon as a plane is about to take off. Once the take-offs are over, around 10:30 a.m., it’s like a flock of sparrows,.. everyone picks up their equipment and goes to Jelsum.
There, you can squarely stand at the threshold of the runway to photograph the landings. The planes pass you a few meters and you can really make nice close-ups.
And then everyone goes back to Marsum to start the series of afternoon takeoffs and then again the race to Jelsum….