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French Air Force’s Patrouille de France Exciting U.S. Airshow Crowds

The precision aerobatics of the French Air Force’s own demonstration team Patrouille de France is exciting airshow crowds across America this spring as their ten jets perform an exciting display of maneuvers

Patrouille de France is only in North America through May as the squadron makes their first visit here in 30 years. The team is marking the 100th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I to aid France and England, and will include ceremonial events on the ground at each airshow stop.  as they remember the centennial.

In the sky, the blue, white, and red contrails of Patrouille de France’s eight Alpha jets flying in tight formation is becoming a major highlight at recent airshows in Florida and Alabama. To many, the French Air Force aerobatics won their hearts as the team’s narrator expressed wishes of love and greetings from France to America.

AvGeekery.com caught up with the team at Maxwell AFB in Montgomery as they co-headlined the base’s Open House and Airshow on April 8 and 9 with the USAF Thunderbirds. The two teams engaged in discussions and the Birds even welcomed two of France’s elite to fly with their team.

“At Maxwell, Captain Dubois and Captain Tardif, had the chance to fly with the Thunderbirds in the back seat of their F-16s,” said Patrouille de France spokesperson LTT Antonia Buroni on Sunday. “These fine flights have strengthened the ties that bind us to the American Air Force patrol. It was also an exchange about our ways of working, which proved very enriching. We are delighted to have been able to embark with them.”

The team’s cargo and personnel craft, an Airbus A400M Atlas, performs a flight demo an hour prior to the Alpha jets. The hulking gray aircraft will demonstrate a high pitch take-off, flat passes, and incredible wing tipped passes before the crowd.

Each pilot flies under the call sign of Athos 1 thru 8, and has currently been with the team for over a year. Lead by flight leader and Athos 1, Commander Christophe, each pilot carries over 2000 hours of flight time behind the stick of the French jets.

Known as the world’s oldest demonstration team in world beginning in 1931, many of Patrouille de France maneuvers are cutting edge providing a deeper dimension during their show flying with two jets more than their U.S. counterpart, the Thunderbirds or the Navy’s Blue Angels. A few of their eight jet formations include the Diamond, Apollo, Fleche, and Canard.

“For two days, we presented our series to the public, who came to attend this meeting at this air base located in the town of Montgomery,” LTT Buroni added. “The audience of the meeting was able to attend in-flight demonstrations of several types of aircraft, including pallet dropping by the eight C-130 Hercules stationed on the Maxwell base, as well as the Eurofighter Typhoon Royal Air Force British.”

Two hours following their April 9 flight demo at Maxwell, Patrouille de France jets and cargo craft departed for Pensacola for two days with the Blue Angels. The squadron will perform a fly over of the Grand Canyon on April 13, followed by stops in Sacramento, California this weekend, and a brief visit with the Thunderbirds at their home in Las Vegas on April 17 and 18. Their brief tour of North America will conclude on May 2 in Quebec.

(Charles A. Atkeison reports on aerospace and science. Follow his updates on social media via @Military_Flight.)

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Written by Charles Atkeison

Charles Atkeison

Charles A Atkeison is a long time aerospace journalist having covered both military and civilian aviation, plus 30 space shuttle launches from Cape Canaveral. He has produced multimedia aerospace content for CNN, London's Sky News, radio, print, and the web for twenty years. From flying with his father at age 5 to soaring as a VIP recently with the Navy's Blue Angels and USAF Thunderbirds, Charles continues to enjoy all aspects of flight.

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