Probably the most talked about Air Show in 2014 was the modestly entitled Air14 at Payerne airbase, Switzerland. Organised to pay tribute to 100 years of Swiss Military Aviation with a unique air display to remember history and honour airmen, it also nicely coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Patrouille Swiss and 25 years of the PC7 Team. Frank Togher was there for the first weekend.
To mark all three of the major Swiss Air Force anniversaries unique, the organisers organised two weekends of air shows. These took place in the last weekend in August and the following weekend in early September, with each show day having a different theme. This review covers the first weekend which had the themes of Reconnaissance and Air to Ground.
With six international displays teams ranging from Patrouille Suisse to the Croatian Wings of Storm and just about every aircraft type in the Swiss Air Force (past and present) it was set to be a great weekend. One of the principle sponsors Breitling also had a strong presence with the Breitling Wingwalkers, Breitling Jet Team and the Super Constellation.
Completing the flying display line-up were a number of fast jet and helicopter displays from a number of European nations including Belgium with their F-16 Fighting Falcon solo, France with the Ramex Delta pair of Dassault Mirage 2000Ns, Poland with their MiG-29 solo and Su-22 duo displays and the Czech Air Force with the Mil Mi-24V/35 battlefield assault helicopter.
The organisers also set up a number of unique set pieces for the flying display pairing dissimilar types, these included a formation F/A-18C Hornet and Super Puma, a flypast of the Patrouille Suisse and Swiss Airlines Airbus A330 and what can only be described as formation of “Swiss Jet heritage” cold war jets and later a balbo of helicopters past and present.
Sat atop an Ammunition bunker with a view across the whole airfield, we were fortunate to watch the air show from the first arrivals on Thursday through to departures on the Monday.
Air show days saw huge crowds drawn to Payerne for this very unique celebration of Swiss Aviation. Not surprisingly, for the large crowds the big display teams from around Europe including the Patrouille de France , Patrulla Aguila, Wings of Storm, Midnight Hawks and PC-7 Team were the main highlights. However the Patrouille Swiss were clear favourites, with displays including many flares as well as the superbly flown flypast with Swiss A330, and who could criticise their choice.
For the enthusiast there were many rich pickings, for example the opportunity to once again see a Dassault Mirage III in the air was one. The aforementioned “Swiss Jet heritage” formation comprised of Hawker Hunter, Dassault Mirage III, de Havilland Vampire and Northrop F-5 – all in Swiss military markings and was just awe inspiring. In the static a Croatian Mil Mi-8 was a rarely seen visitor. Warbirds included the Red Bull P-38L Lightning, P-51D Mustang Moonbeam McSwine and a Douglas Skyraider.
Following the Monday departures, the tribute continued throughout the week with a half day airshow until the following weekend with Pat Suisse, PC7 team, Super Puma and F/A18 participating. This allowed schools and locals to attend (helping to reduce demand for weekend tickets apparently).