In 2019 another edition of the multinational airborne exercise Falcon Leap took place at Eindhoven Air Base. This year the large scale exercise coincided with the 75th yearly remembrance of Market Garden.
This year’s edition of the multinational para exercise had airborne infantry participants from the USA, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Germany. The exercise was supported by airplanes from the US Air Force, US Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Royal Netherlands Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the Luftwaffe, Belgian Air Force and the Polish Air Force.
The exercise was held for two weeks in September, starting with equipment drops in the first week, culminating in mass jumps of 1100 para jumpers in the second week, commemorating World War II operation Market Garden, 75 years ago.
The main goal of Falcon Leap is enhance interoperability. Participants use each other's gear and protocols to learn about them, create more standardized process and generate trust. An Italian soldier can therefore jump out of a German plane, wearing a Dutch parachute. We spoke with a Major belonging to the Diavoli Gialli (Yellow Devils) of the Italian Army. Part of the challenge is getting your wings from other nations by jumping with their gear and from their planes. But in the end of the day it’s all part of the bigger picture; learning procedures and working together while gaining trust.
Different type of jumps were practiced, like static line and high altitude jumping. Over the days leading up to the Market Garden jumps, more than 1100 participants had their chance to make one or more jumps. This was a massive logistical undertaking executed smoothly by the participating multinational forces at Eindhoven Air Base.
2019 marked the 75th year since British and American troops tried to create a salient and bridgehead in the Netherlands to facilitate and accelerate the invasion of Germany.
Participants of Falcon Leap, together with a C-47 in original condition, flew several missions daily in the second week of the exercise. They jumped over historical areas where the British and Americans jumped 75 years ago. On Saturday September 21 was the largest set of jumps over “de Ginkelse Heide” (Ginkel Heath) supporting a massive remembrance event, attended by by a large crowd of onlookers and dignitaries from many countries, and sadly, an ever shrinking number of actual veterans, who went through the horror of Market Garden.
Aerospace Archive would like to thank Eindhoven Air Base and Major Gilbert Stout and his Public Affairs team for the hospitality during the Falcon Leap exercise and Market Garden remembrance.
Words: Roger Kemp
Photography and video by: Roel Reijne, Anno Gravemaker (Website), William Spruyt, Vincent Kok and Roger Kemp