The beginnings

On September 11 in 1946, a small group of Sabena staff members established a general aviation section named SSTA, or "Section Sportive et de Tourisme Aérien". The objective of the new association was to promote 'the Art of Piloting and Navigating', as was announced by an early leaflet. The newly formed club was open to employees of Sabena and its branch offices.

The first aircraft provided for members of the club was an Auster J1 Autocrat (OO-ABN) and was soon followed by two Piper Cubs (OO-EAB and OO-EAE). Also at that time they flew out of the airfield of Grimbergen, previously a military spare airport which existed since 1939.
Auster J1 Autocrat OO-ABN
Auster J1 Autocrat OO-ABN
Delivered to SSTA in 1946. It flew until August 1970 and was then transfered to the Brussels Air Museum.
Auster J1 Autocrat OO-ABN
Auster J1 Autocrat OO-ABN
Here seen with OO-EAB, a Piper L-4H Grasshopper (J3C-65D), in the background.
A few years later, in 1954, the association became a non-profit organisation.

From 1965 onwards, more modern aircraft were added to the fleet, like a Cessna 150 (OO-SEZ). In 1966 the club bought its first four-seater, a Cessna 172 (OO-SEY). In 1974 an extra Cessna 150 (OO-SEW) was acquired due to the large number of members (120).

In 1985, under Sabena CEO Carlos van Raefelghem, the SSTA was transformed into the Sabena Aeroclub, the flying club of the Sabena Airline. Due to this change, the airplanes also received a new look: they were painted blue and white (the official Sabena colours) besides the classic S-tail (the Sabena logo) on the airplane’s tails. Soon the association would reach its record number of 280 members.
Cessna 172M Skyhawk OO-SEU
Cessna 172M Skyhawk OO-SEU
The plane was acquired by the club in March 1990. Sadly it was victim of an accident and part of the wreckage were stored at Grimbergen airfield in 2002.
Piper PA28-181 Archer II OO-JMC
Piper PA28-181 Archer II OO-JMC
Here seen in front of a Sobelair B737-400 at Girona in 1994.
When the club would celebrate it’s 40th birthday in 1994, the Grimbergen airfield was closed. Local pressure groups - complaining about sound pollution in their self-picked living area - forced contemporary politicians into it. But the club got an exception from the government to land at the airfield. Sabena CEO Pierre Godfroid and representative of the Parliament and chairman of the Flemish Aerospace Group (FLAG) Herman Candries were present at the celebration. Eight years after closure of the airfield it re-opened and the club settled back in Grimbergen in 1997.

Sabena bankrupcy

In October 2001, mother company Sabena was suddenly declared bankrupt and so the club abruptly lost its main and only fundings. But it well and sound managed to survive on its own. After the breaking news the club negotiated with the Sabena curators about the release of ownership of some of the aircraft of the Aeroclub fleet, which were still Sabena property. The transaction was successful (the club paid the current value) and from that point on the Sabena Aeroclub legally owned all of its aircraft.

For everyone

On the 26th of June 2002 new rules were voted in the general assembly under which the Aeroclub activities continued. According to the new statutes, anyone with a healthy interest in aeronautics can become a member.

In 2004 the club celebrated its 50th birthday which was extensively celebrated. One year later the club received the title 'Royal' by his royal and Belgian Majesty King Albert II. Since then the club may be officially called "Royal Sabena Aeroclub".
Today we are a proud, independent and self-sufficient aeroclub. We have about a hundred members flying our five modern well maintained aircraft. We do our utmost to fly as environment friendly as possible with highest regards to safety. Therefore where possible, we reduce noise pollution, avoid residential areas, reduce fuel consumption, etc.

We are the only Declared Training Organisation (DTO) in Belgium, providing modern ground and flight instruction in Dutch, English and French.

Challenges for the future

The present world of aviation is developing more rapidly than ever. One of our challenges for the future is to stay up to date with these changes.

For example:

  • Safety is the first and ever present topic in all our activities.
  • We continuously strive to improve our way of teaching the art of flying.
  • Continue to attract interested youth and to help them with their first steps towards becoming a professional pilot.
  • Guiding passionate people into their aviation hobby.
  • Keeping our fleet up to date with the latest technologies.
  • Like in the good old days of Sabena we want to stimulate the pleasant atmosphere among club members, colleagues and aviation enthusiasts.

Tradition is not worshipping the ashes, but keeping the fire burning.

Sir Thomas More, 1478 - 1535


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Sabena Aeroclub

Near Brussels, heart of Europe
High-quality, professional training
Multilanguage & international
Friendly & personal atmosphere

Contact us

Humbeeksesteenweg 313
1980 Grimbergen, Belgium
+32 2 252 08 08

Our location

Our home base is Grimbergen, only 15 km away from Belgium's capital city and Brussels National Airport.
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