2017 Patrouille de France of the French Air Force was cordially invited to the United States by the United States Air Force (USAF) marking their 70th Anniversary and also the 100th Anniversary for the end of World War 1. The Patrouille Acrobatique de France also known as the Patrouille de France ( PAF) is the precision aerobatic demonstration team of the French Air Force. Originating in 1931, it is the world’s oldest and one of the most skilled demonstration teams. Pilots currently fly the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet that the switched over in 1981 from the Fouga Magister. This US tour marks PAF’s appearance in the United states since her last visit 30 years ago.
2017 Patrouille de France’s team consists of a team of 72 , 10 Alpha jet ( 2 spares) and a single A-400M transport.
Aircraft #1- Team Leader : Lieutenant Colonel Christophe Dubois ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 pilot 2200 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #2- Captain Damien Bourmaud ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 and F1-CR , 3300 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #3- Captain Cyril Touzet ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 pilot 2200 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #4- Captain Nicolas Lieumont ( formerly Mirage 2000C and F1-CR , 2000 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #5- Captain William Leroy ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 pilot 3300 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #6- Captain Bertrand Tardif ( formerly Mirage F1-CR pilot 3200 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #7- Captain Hervé Aubert ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 pilot 3500 hrs flight experience)
Aircraft #8- Captain Benjamin Chanat ( formerly F1-CR pilot 3300 hrs flight experience)
Backup Pilot – Captain Benjamin Michel ( formerly Mirage 2000-5 pilot 3200 hrs flight experience)
As illustrated we can see that PAF will be visiting different cities and major sites in the United States and we are fortunate to be able to cover 2 of the locations namely Dallas/Ft worth, TX and Sacramento CA.
From our photographer Caulun Belcher’s account on the spring day in Dallas area :
On April 12th the Patrouille de France Alpha Jet’s arrived two by two at NAS Fort Worth JRB from NAS Pensacola for lunch with the base Commander before the flyover at the Trescal Factory near Dallas Ft Worth Airport DFW later that day. Due to issues with one of the Alpha Jets the flyover that afternoon was unfortunately cancelled. The demo team departed later that evening from the NAS JRB ( KNFW) for Sante Fe, New Mexico for fuel before their eventual team flyover of the Grand Canyon AZ. The next morning on April 13th I got word of an Airbus A400M headed my way which was the teams support aircraft, so I got my camera and hurried to a good spotting location to catch it and to our surprise we had a single French Alpha Jet arrive alongside the Airbus! The A400M performed a low pass over the field and banked back around for a sharp turn in for final overhead! This was the first time an A400M has visited NAS Fort Worth JRB to my knowledge, and it drew quite the crowd of spotters! This particular single Alpha Jet suffered mechanical issues at NAS Pensacola and after a short stop here for fuel, the Alpha Jet and A400M departed and headed west to catch up the the remainder of the team. What a treat to see the Patrouille de France and the A400M over the skies of Fort Worth, Texas!
Sacramento California Performance
April 15th Patrouille de France made an appearance display in Mather Airport, CA. This event was accompanied by French Ambassador Guy Michelier that kicked started this faithful event. The arrival of the Alpha jets on the 13th April was hailed with French and American flags and patriotic French and American Anthem.
Article by Dave Chng
Pictures by Tom Lee and Caulun Belcher a.k.a TXAVGEEK