Text: Bruno Ghils - Pictures: Bruno Ghils & Others as mentioned © sbap 2014


A little touch of sea salt...

When on the beach, we all had the opportunity to see passing by some Seaking rescue helicopters from the Belgian Air Force, EC145 of the France's 'Protection Civil', boats from the SNSM – (Société de sauvetage en Mer Française – French sea rescue corporation) or other elegant Dauphins from the Aéronavale...

Each department is specific; each force has its missions. At the civil airport of Le Touquet you have a detachment of the Flottille 35F of the French Aéronavale. This unit is polyvalent and is home-based at the naval air station (Base Aéronautique Navale – BAN) at Hyères with an helicopter detachment on three civil sites, being Le Touquet, Cherbourg and La Rochelle. At present the Flottille 35F operates Sud-Aviation SA365 Dauphin and Sud-Aviation SA316 Alouette III helicopters.

Its various missions comprises the safeguard of the pilots of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, better known under their nickname "Pedro", flying Dauphins, sea rescue missions thanks to the Dauphins SP (Service Public – Civile Service) and support missions to the forces deployed to the sea or public service missions with its venerable Alouette III.

We all know these helicopters; having seen them at various airshows... the Dauphin even is a regular visitor at our Koksijde airbase or neighbouring Valenciennes.

But what happens when these helicopters are not flying?

As they have a harsh life, the flights over seas are very constraining for the airframes, engines and systems. The sea sprays is the worst enemy of modern aircraft... What are they doing? Care is being taken of their health thanks to a team of highly qualified technicians (the French Aéronavale is renowned for the quality of its technicians and the value of its maintenance).
Helicopters and crews never sleep... and as our cars need a regular visit to the garage or a beauty stop-over at the 'car-wash' to stay on "top", the Dauphins of the Aéronavale receive the same attention as to keep-up with their various missions, lifesavings... in short, doing their guardian angel job.

Present in the airshow, here at Koksijde (Bruno Ghils) And at Valenciennes (Serge Van Heertum)
Some Alouette III of the Flottille 35F (Courtesy Marine Nationale) (Courtesy Marine Nationale)
Another kind of Guardian Angels...the Gendarmerie Nationale And the Marine Nationale
Securité Civile is also on duty
The Dauphin N°91 in action before washing (Courtesy Marine Nationale) (Courtesy Marine Nationale)
(Courtesy Marine Nationale) (Courtesy Marine Nationale)
(Courtesy Marine Nationale) (Courtesy Marine Nationale)
Heli Wash...

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