COGEA Nouvelle is well-known for having operated six Spitfire IXs from the late 1950s to the early ’60s — all but one survive today. But what was this Belgian company, and why did it buy Spitfires?
Air taxi work, pleasure flights, flying lessons, towing advertising banners, and the sale and repair of aircraft and components. Those were the main activities of COGEA, the Compagnie Générale d’Exploitation Aéronautique, when it was established in January 1946. The operation of half-a-dozen Spitfires was long in the future. The company started out at Haren and Melsbroek airports in the outskirts of Brussels. The main shareholders were Camille Abrassart, Edmond Pierre and above all Jean-Jacques Rouget, who was instrumental in developing COGEA and expanding its remit. Its very first aircraft were Piper J-3C-65 Cubs, purchased directly from the USA.