The Volkel Air Force Base in Holland was the scene of excitement and anticipation, while thousands of spectators waited anxiously to see Christijan Albers face off against an F16 Fighter jet airplane. Speculation and thrill soared through the excited crowd because experts and lay spectators alike were unsure who would be victorious. In the air, there is no match to the F16’s top speed of 2,020 kilometers per hour but how it was going to perform on the ground was anyone’s guess.
The Spyker Racing Team put their F8-VII on the line for the “Full Throttle” event and looked forward to the opportunity, especially as they have been associated with the Royal Netherlands Air Force for many years. The Formula 1 racecar, driven by Christijan Albers, can reached speeds of approximately 350 kilometers an hour, which is the average speed the F16 needs to lift-off. So, from a ground performance point of view, the F16 and the F1 Spyker F8-VII should be evenly matched.
The F16 was piloted by Captain Ralph Aarts, who has a long and distinguished flight record that includes 1,100 hours of flying and many operational missions. The accomplished pilot was as excited as Albers at the chance to race two powerful machines against each other.
At the start of the 1 kilometer race it seemed as if the Formula 1 Racing Car was going to get the upper hand. Albers had the starting advantage for the first 300 meters, but the F16 dug deep and managed to pass Albers and remain in the lead for the remaining 700 meters. The F16 aircraft completed the 1 kilometer stretch in 15.5 seconds, with its top speed at the finish line being 450 kilometers per hour. Captain Aarts then gently lifted his machine off the ground to perform a few maneuvers and tricks that left the spectators speechless and Albers with a new respect for the warriors of the sky.
Both pilot and driver enjoyed each second of the race, as Albers was overjoyed to have come so close to an F16 Fighter, and Aarts to a Formula 1 Racing Car. Even though the event was over in a few seconds and the F16 had won by a mere two car lengths, it was a day that was enjoyed by all.
It is not everyday that two of the world’s fastest moving machines get the opportunity to challenge each other. The race also served a very important function and that was to raise awareness for the Air Force’s Recruitment Program, to entice young future pilots to consider a career with the Royal Netherlands Air Force.