Where can you see a a formation of World War I fighters, a Mirage 2000, and a Junkers Ju 52 all on the same day?
- By Bettina H. Chavanne
- Air & Space magazine, May 2006
(Page 4 of 4)
Jean Salis flies a World War II Fieseler 156 Storch German reconnaissance aircraft, which Chabbert describes as floating on the air like a lazy grasshopper. The Storch is followed, incongruously, by an enormous Junkers Ju 52, which the Germans flew as both transports and bombers during the war. The Junkers manages to lumber into the sky without getting mired in the boggy grass.
Sunshine finally breaks through, and more and more aircraft line up to make demonstration flights. World War I aircraft stage dogfights, and World
War II craft reenact key moments in combat, complete with flaming bombs and low-flying P-51s. Toward the end of the show, the Mirage 2000 returns, this time looping and rolling to the Top Gun soundtrack. That display is followed by the quieter but impressive aerobatics of the Breitling Jet Team, flying six Czechoslovakian L-39 Albatros cold war trainers.
Belying the fighter pilot stereotype, the jet pilots at the show openly admire their elders and their airplanes. The 36-year-old Mirage 2000 pilot, a captain in the French air force, says that when he retires, he hopes to buy an old airplane and fly it around at shows like the guys at La Ferté Alais.
Despite the undercurrents of purism, the show has a spirit of openness and curiosity about the aircraft of other eras, other nations. Chabbert, the announcer, gets in a dig at what he perceives is a more narrow-minded aviation culture, commenting: "The Americans don't always honor the beauty of airplanes other than their own." Is he right, or just being French? Here at Cerny, the hope is that one day more Blériots and SPADs will fly at airshows in the States-or at least putter happily along the airfields there.