The Swiss Air Force celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a big airshow, split on 2 weekends, on Payerne Air Base, in the Canton of Vaud. Here I am, despite an hard drive failure (luckily I had many backups!), with my report of the 1st weekend. Unfortunately, due to safety reasons, air displays were a bit too far for my 300 mm lens. Furthermore, weather often changed quickly from sunny to cloudy.
Anyway, let’s sit in the first row and watch the airshow’s photos!
The photos are not in chronological order… You’ll se photos from both days mixed with photos from the rehearsal day and even from the arrivals day.
Red Bull was present with some of its warbirds.
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning is a twin-engine long range fighter which served in World War 2. Due to its shape, it was nicknamed “der Gabelschwanz-Teufel” (“forked-tailed devil”) by Luftwaffe pilots.
The Vought F4U Corsair is a World War 2 carrier-based fighter. It features a gullwing designed to give its huge propeller a proper clearance from the ground. It became famous as Ace Gregory “Pappy” Boyington’s main ride, as seen in the TV series “Baa Baa Black Sheep”.
The North American B-25 Mitchell is a World War 2 medium bomber which became famous as the airplane used for the “Doolittle Raid”: 16 B-25s were launched from aircraft carriers (they are land-based planes!) and became the first aircraft to bomb mainland Japan during WW2.
Finally, Red Bull brought its MBB Bo-105 helicopter. The Bo-105, unlike many other helicopters, features a “rigid” (hingeless) rotor hub, which allows it to perform incredible aerobatic maneuvers! Unfortunately, they were too far from me.
Breitling was present with many of its air assets too.
The Breitling Jet Team flies Aero L-39 Albatros trainers.
The Breitling Wingwalkers feature beautiful women dancing on the wings of Stearman biplanes.
The Lockheed Super Constellation made a brief flight too.
It was possible to visit it in the static display.
The Breitling DC-3 was only in the static display.
The Classic Formation flies with a Douglas DC-3 and two Beech 18s.
Another historical passenger airliner: the Junkers Ju-52, nicknamed “Tante Ju” (“Aunt Ju”) due to its reliability.
For the historical side of the airshow, there was also a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, painted in the livery it wore while in French service during the Korean War. The Skyraider is a big carrier-based single-engine ground attack plane (it was used in a similar role as the A-10 today) designed towards the end of World War 2. It wasn’t ready yet for WW2, but it served in the Korean War and even in the Viet Nam War, where it was used as an escort airplane for the Combat SAR helicopters.
Notice the sharkmouth on the nose of the drop tank!
Soviet World War 2 fighter Yakovlev Yak-3.
Finally, a North American P-51 Mustang.
In the static display it was possible to see this Comte AC-4, a two-seater training and sport aircraft built by Swiss aviation pioneer Alfred Comte.
There was also this interesting North American OV-10 Bronco light attack and reconnaisance aircraft used in the Viet Nam War. Quite unusually for such an aircraft, it houses a small cargo hold between the tail booms: it was possible to load cargo, stretchers and even paratroopers! Nowadays this cargo hold is often used by air-to-air photographers.
Now let’s pass to modern aircraft!
Much to our surprise, the Royal Canadian Air Force sent 2 CF-18 Hornet for the static display. They were listed for this weekend, but they were later cancelled, so it was a great surprise to see 2 of them detach from their redeployment in Romania!
The German Luftwaffe sent a Panavia Tornado IDS attack aircraft.
The Austrian Air Force sent an Eurofighter Typhoon… This allowed me to complete my “collection” of European Typhoons!
Austria sent also a Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk transport helicopter in long-range configuration with 2 drop tanks.
One of the reasons I chose the first weekend was the chance to see the Polish Air Force Sukhoi Su-22, NATO codename “Fitter” (during the Cold War, NATO used to assign codenames to Soviet- and Chinese-built aircraft before their designation was known, in order to identify their roles: the codenames start with F for fighters, H for helicopters etc.) The Su-22 is basically a big jet engine with some airplane parts attached to it, and it is used in a ground attack role.
The Su-22 features a variable-sweep wing, as can be seen in this picture. The lead aircraft is keeping the wings at maximum sweep: this decreases aerodynamic drag at transonic and supersonic speed, allowing the plane to fly faster while burning less fuel. The wingman is keeping the wings at minimum sweep: this makes the plane more maneuverable at low speed and decreases stall speed, but increases aerodynamic drag.
The Polish Air Force sent also a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29, NATO codename “Fulcrum”.
Thick black smoke, so typical of Soviet designed aircraft! This aircraft is dedicated to Polish Air Force officer Merian Cooper, who was also co-writer and co-director of the famous movie “King Kong”!
The Czech Air Force performed a display with a Mil Mi-24 helicopter, NATO codename “Hind”. Built 80% with aluminium and 20% with badassery, the Mi-24 is a unique helicopter with no counterparts in the Western world: it merges the firepower of a gunship helicopter with the ability to transport a small group of soldiers in its cargo bay. It is also probably one of the coolest flying machines ever built!
Is there something better than a badass Soviet-designed helicopter? Of course there is: a Tiger Meet-themed badass Soviet-designed helicopter!
The Czech Air Force sent also a SAAB JAS 39 Gripen for the static display.
The Belgian Air Component sent 3 Lockheed F-16 Falcon, one of which (the usual special-coloured one) performed a stunning display.
The French Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre (Light Army Aviation) sent an Eurocopter Tigre. The Tigre is a joint French-German attack helicopter which suffered a troubled and very long development, and it was the first all-composite helicopter developed in Europe.
The French Air Force sent also the Ramex Delta display duo, flying two Dassault Mirage 2000N nuclear strike bombers.
And obviously the Patrouille de France!
The Croatian Air Force sent its display team Krila Oluje (“Wings of Storm”), flying Pilatus PC-9 trainers.
The Croatian Air Force sent also a load of pure Sovietness for the static display, a Mil Mi-8 helicopter, NATO codename “Hip”!
The Finnish Air Force display team Midnight Hawks made one of their rare airshows outside Finland. The Finnish Air Force Academy used to organize an summer airshow which was closed by 4 of its instructors flying in close formation. Since the sun sets very late in the summer at high latitudes, the instructors usually performed at midnight: this explains the display team’s name!
The Spanish Air Force sent the display team Patrulla Aguila.
They are very proud of their 2010 Football World Cup victory!
And finally the Swiss aircraft!
The Pilatus aircraft factory (which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year) sent a PC-9 flew by its chief test pilot Patrick Willcock.
The German company MeierMotors recently finished restoring this EKW C-3603. The C-3603 is a ground attack aircraft developed during World War 2 and ready to be used if Switzerland was forced to join the war.
Later some C-3603 were reengined with turboprops and used as target tugs, becoming the C-3605 Schlepp. Due to the higher thrust-to-weight ratio of turboprop engines, the nose had to be lenghtened in order to maintain the position of the center of gravity.
The Super Puma made its usual stunning display.
Excellent display by the F-18 too.
From Canton Ticino, the P3 Flyers display team.
This Super Puma was used for air-to-air shots. Notice the camera mounted on the outside.
Taking photos of the crowd!
Noorduyn AT-16 Harvard (license-built version of the North American T-6 Texan trainer).
De Havilland Vampire fighters.
It was possible to see this Hawker Hunter in the static display. I thought it was impossible to make an ugly livery for a military aircraft, and then I saw this…
The PC-7 Team display team celebrated its 25th anniversary.
Their trademark Tunnel figure.
The Patrouille Suisse celebrated its 50th anniversary with a fly-by in formation with a Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A330 and a joint display with the PC-7 Team.
Do you think the Tunnel figure isn’t difficult enough? Well, try it with a WHOLE DISPLAY TEAM flying through your formation!
Finally, the special air ballet for the 100th Anniversary!
The ballet was opened by an original Blériot XI! (EDIT: I thought it was a replica, it’s actually an original Blériot XI!) This airplane lacks ailerons, and it rolls by twisting its wingtips! A similar plane was used by its designer Louis Blériot for the first flight across the English Channel.
As the Blériot was landing, the Scout Paratroopers descended with the Swiss Flag.
The first legacy pass: an F-18 in formation with a Morane-Saulnier MS.406.
During the rehearsal day, this pass was performed with a P-51 Mustang in place of the Morane-Saulnier.
The only airworthy Dassault Mirage III in Europe and an Hawker Hunter take off for the second legacy pass.
In the second legacy pass there are a De Havilland Vampire, the Mirage, the Hunter and a Northrop F-5 Tiger.
The Tiger is a two-seater, which are getting rarer and rarer in Switzerland.
The third legacy pass shows the Swiss Air Force’s helicopters and a Pilatus PC-6 (looks like it can be compared to an helicopter due to its STOL capabilities!)
The Super Puma wears a special livery for the 4th Transport Wing’s 50th Anniversary (another round anniversary?!? Are they made on purpose?!?)
The fourth legacy pass shows the past of training in the Swiss Air Force, with a Bucker Jungmann, a Pilatus P-3 and a Pilatus P-2.
The fifth and last legacy pass shows the present of training, with Pilatus PC-7, PC-9 and PC-21.
And finally, the special color Hornet and Super Puma flying together.
And… FLARES, FLARES, FLARES!!!
That’s all, thank you for watching!