Flight over Flanders Fields
Take a Battlefield Tour to get a new perspective on The Great War – from the air.
TEXT: FRANK VAN LIESHOUT | PHOTO © TORAN HELI SERVICES
With hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world visiting Belgium to commemorate the centenary of the First World War (1914-1918), Wevelgembased Toran Heli Services offers a unique perspective on the battlefields where hell broke loose 100 years ago.
“If you go up with us in a helicopter, you will get a very different view,” says Toran Heli Services director Marc Lambert. “The landscape still bears the scars from that terrible time. From the air you can make out the trenches and mine craters, the vast cemeteries and imposing memorials – it will bring home the sheer scale and horror of this war that took eight million lives.”
Founded in 1996, Toran fly from three Flanders helicopter fields – Antwerp, Knokke and their home base at Wevelgem near Lille – with a fleet of ten helicopters ranging from two to five-seaters. “You can book 30, 45 or 60-minute flights,” Lambert explains. “We can take you over the wideopen Flanders countryside, cities such as Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges and along the coast, from Knokke to De Panne. And, if you fancy it, you can also try to fly a helicopter yourself in one of our helicopters with dual controls. It’s a great experience, and a great gift for someone near and dear who loves a bit of adventure!”
For the Great War Battlefield tour, patrons can also choose between a 30, 45 and 60-minute flight. The 30-minute flight will cover the famous sites in and around Ypres, including the Cloth Hall, Hill 62, the Brooding Soldier and the Essex Farm, Polygon Wood and Tyne Cot cemetery. The 45-minute flight will take in the Ypres sites and add the Heuvelland area, including the Pool of Peace mine crater, the French cemetery at Kemmelberg and the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines. If you opt for the full-hour flight, the pilot will also take you further towards the coast, flying over the Belgian Military Cemetery at Houthulst, the famous IJzertoren memorial, Our Lady Corner Memorial Chapel, the Trench of Death and the King Albert I Memorial in historic Nieuwpoort. “For anyone with an interest in the Great War, it will be an experience without equal.”