The sun shines on ‘Le Temps des Hélices’
With near-perfect weather enabling virtually full flying programmes to be staged, wonderful La Ferté Alais, just thirty miles south of Paris, held its 46th Meeting Aérien on 19-20 May. The anniversary of WWI’S end brought forth a larger-than-usual contingent of representative types. Six of the UK Great War Display Team’s replicas joined the Salis Collection’s examples, with the splendid Tval-built Bristol Fighter among them.
A unique formation extended the Armistice centenary theme as the Memorial Flight’s original SPAD XII accompanied a French AF Dassault Rafale in a widelyspaced but still remarkable formation. Not yet airworthy, the Memorial Flight’s Royal Aircraft Factory BE2F was perhaps the nicest aircraft on show. Reproduced from original drawings, it is a long-term project now nearing its conclusion.
A rotary-powered Blériot XI-2’S pistol-armed pilot demonstrated air-to-air combat’s earliest form by trying to ‘shoot-down’ a Germanpainted Leopoldoff L55 Colibri. Following on from four-ship flybys involving these two aircraft, a Morane H and the Lycomingengined Deperdussin T replica, this was typically imaginative La Ferté fare. No Bückers, Stampes or Zlins paraded this year but a great MS317 formation trio and a US classics combine of Bellanca 14-19 Cruisemaster, newly-imported Spartan 7W Executive and two Stinson Reliants ensured that vintage civilian designs still played a part.
The Salis Collection’s Vought F4U-5N Corsair F-AZEG, which had been under restoration for over ten years and flew again on 9 May, was rightfully one of the show’s stars. The 1951-built former US Navy and Honduran Air Force night fighter featured prominently, giving a superb display in Baptiste Salis’s hands and leading four French Navy Rafales, a Falcon 10MER and Armor Aéro Passion’s MS760 Paris in an astounding Heritage Flight. As this formation overflew the airfield, two Morane Saulnier MS733 Alcyons passed beneath them from the opposite direction.
The Fighter Collection always gives good support and its involvement this time included the Curtiss-wright Hawk 75 which joined Air Leasing’s two-seat HA1112-M4L Buchón ‘Red 11’ and Anglia Aircraft Restorations’ Spitfire FRXIV MV268 in a unique formation of French, ‘German’ and British WWII aircraft.
From Switzerland came Daniel Koblet’s MS D-3801 and the Swiss Hornet Display Team’s F/A-18C, flown individually and together, plus Hugo Mathys’s impeccable Classic Formation of DC3 HB-ISC and 3 Beech 18s. Trailing Chalair’s DC3 and two Dassault Flamants, they produced yet another standout formation. Piloted by commentator Bernard Chabbert’s son Antoine, the family’s Lockheed L-12A Electra Junior, painted as Amelia Earhart’s L-10E Electra NR16020 from its role in the 2009 movie Amelia, was impressively well-flown.
Mixing solo displays with formation flypasts, the actionpacked Vietnam War scenario involving two Douglas Skyraiders, an OV-10 Bronco, Cessna O-2 and debuting US Marines-schemed T-28B Trojan F-AYVF (which joined the French civil register on only the eve of the show) was very well done.
This was a superb event−next year’s will take place on 8-9 June.
BELOW LEFT: Corsair F-AZEG returned to the show with an excellent solo display… BELOW RIGHT: …and led an astonishing French Navy Heritage Flight formation
ABOVE: New French warbird scene addition T-28B Trojan F-AYVF leads two Skyraiders
Impressive replica BE2F is nearing airworthiness at La Ferté Alais
Bernard Chabbert’s Lockheed 12A, painted as Amelia Earhart’s aircraft, was a great performer