Michel Verheughe’s son first introduced him to X-Plane in 1998. Michel exclaimed that his first experience with X-Plane involved an extraordinary flight over the San Bernardino Mountains in a Dakota aircraft, the same type his father flew in the 1950s from Belgium to the former Belgian Congo.
In 1940 Michel’s father fought the invading Germany, flying a Fairey Fox aircraft. After Belgium surrendered his father joined the Belgian underground resistance where he met Michel’s mother. Toward the end of the war he escaped to England where he was once again trained as a pilot.
Dakota, OT-CWG, the aircraft Michel’s father flew on April 20, 1954 as the K16 (military code), taking the Belgian king Baudouin I from Brussels to Oslo, Norway to the funerals of the Norwegian Crown Princess Martha. Michel adds, “That was also his aunt.”
Michel’s father passed away in 1986 while living in Spain, where he is now buried. Michel shared one of his favorite memories of his father: “At the time, I was six years old and my father told us that he saw in Oslo a ski jump ramp so high that the skiers were jumping over his plane! Of course, he was joking.”
Michel further commented about his father, “He was a shy man and his story is little known. I modeled the aircraft in PlaneMaker that my father flew often with Belgian livery, the C-119 Flying Boxcar aircraft. After giving my design to Austin I was honored that he included my model as part of the standard X-Plane package.”
One of Michel’s favorite X-Plane memories was modeling the Russian WIG Orlyonok. He could not manage to get the aircraft out of the water. When asking Austin what to do, he was told, “Set the step in the hull a bit more aft.” Michel did and the WIG finally managed to take off! This is when he came to understood that each surface of the X-Plane model was not only aerodynamic but also hydrodynamic!
Until 2003 Michel would fly X-Plane daily. He then purchased his ultralight Kitfox aircraft, with which he now spends much of his time. He flies X-Plane version 9 and comments about his flying, “During the winter, I like to fly my own aircraft in X-Plane, the ultralight Kitfox, which I modeled in all details. I train using X-Plane for IFR, although not legal for ultralight aircraft. Instrument scanning requires skill and, as it once happened, when I was caught between two layers of fog for a short distance over the water it was perhaps my X-Plane training that saved me. If you own and fly a homebuilt ultralight, or want to learn it, X-Plane will teach you the magic of aerodynamics!”
Michel concludes by giving his best regards to Austin, stating, “I still enjoy flying my ultralight and owe it to Austin for my having taken on real life aviation at my age. I will always remember our discussions in Genoa 2001, when we met with Sergio.”
Log book written in French and Dutch as Belgium speak both languages. Note: The code for the king was VVIP (very, very important person).