The sun shines on ‘Le Temps des Hélices’

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port & pho­tos: Nigel Hitch­man

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.