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Albert Van Thournout

Born 24 June 1930, Bree, Belgium. After primary school, I engaged in the Belgian Army at age 17 to get a "Officer" ranking, but my dream of being a "pilot" made me decide to engage in the Belgian Air Force.

I engaged in the Belgian Air Force in July 1951 at the age of 21. Got about 25 h. on the Belgian Biplane Trainer "Stampe-Vertongen SV4b" at the Gossoncourt Airfield near Tirlemont, Belgium. Then I was sent to the USA to follow the Military Jet Pilot Training program as an Air Cadet Class 52G, leaving Belgium on October 1, 1951.

I was based at Bartow Air Base, Florida, a Primary Pilot Training School, until May 10, 1952. Flew about 133 h. on the T-6G. Then came the Advanced Jet Fighter Pilot Training School at Bryan AFB, Texas, where I flew the T-28A for about 71 h. before transitioning to jet on the Lockheed T-33 for about 163 h. Got my Military Pilot Wings on October 25, 1952.

The Belgian Air Force was using the Republic F-84G Thunderjet at that time, so we got some ground courses for this airplane at Sheppard AFB, Texas before being sent to Luke AFB, Phoenix, Arizona to get qualified on the F-84G Thunderjet and do some gunnery practice (air to air and ground strafing and bombing). They called it "F-84 Combat Crew Training".

This training was finished on January 31, 1953 upon which I returned to Belgium to take on duty in the 3rd Squadron of the 2nd Fighter-Bomber Wing at Florennes AFB, Belgium, flying the F-84G for about 540 h.

I had the chance of flying the F-84F Thunderstreak with that Squadron and broke the sound barrier with it (in a slight dive!). Flew it for about 25 h. before leaving the Belgian Air Force to take up a civilian career with "SABENA World Airlines". 
I joined SABENA World Airlines (now Brussels Airlines) on March 1, 1956 after I left the Belgian Air Force.

Got some training on the Douglas DC-3 to get my "Public Transport" licence.  Flew a couple of months on DC-3 cargo flights, especially at night (Paris, London, Amsterdam, etc.). Then I went on to the "Convair CV440 Metropolitan". Nice airplane to fly!  Next were the Douglas DC-6 and DC-7 (almost (4500 h. on them) on "long courier" (long haul sector) as they called it, especially flights to Africa and cargo flights to New York.

Then I got my "Jet" qualification and flew a couple of months on the European sector on the Sud Aviation "SE-210 "Caravelle" Went back to "long courier" on the Boeing B707 (almost 5000 h.!), going to Africa, New York, Tokyo and occasionally some charter flights.

Then on February 16, 1975 I made my first flight to New York on the Boeing B747 as a First Officer/CoPilot. Fantastic experience it was! Incredible airplane. Can't find the words to describe it ...

Then finally on May 27, 1976, I started my training as a Boeing B737-200 Captain.

Flew all around Europe (about 3000 h.) until I retired on May 1, 1982. My last Sabena flight was to Dublin, Ireland on February 28, 1982. This was my "Commercial Aviation" career, with a total of "16.040 hrs. 35 min." flying hours for Sabena.

Upon retirement, I purchased a new 4-place "General Aviation" airplane, a "Piper PA-28-161 "Warrior II", November 1982 shortly after I retired from Sabena Airlines. It was delivered by air at the end of November 1982, direct from Lakeland, Florida (USA) to Brussels National (Belgium). It took nearly 17 h.! The American ferry pilot returned the same day to the USA with an airliner!

It was based at Grimbergen Airfield (EBGB), near Brussels.  I sold it shortly before they closed Grimbergen Airfield, after using it for about 600 h. Registration "YAC" comes from the first initials of my wife (Yvette), myself (Albert) and my daughter (Chantal). Used it primarily to visit "Fly-In's", especially to the U.K. (Cranfield), Germany and France, and of course local flights in Belgium with family and friends.

Was sold in 1991.  It was fun and never regretted it!

Presently, I'm still flying around with my "Flight Simulator" X-Plane on my Macintosh computer. Enjoying it very much.

To know more, just visit my website:
(broken link 1/12/2020)