Text & Pictures: Régis Rocca © sbap 2014

All pilots (and many travelers) know that it is strictly forbidden to fly over Paris and this every day of the year.
Every day that is, except for one: July the 14th, France's National Day. On that date the Champs Elysées become the scene of the yearly military parade on the ground and Parisian skies are full of all kind of military aircraft.
This year SBAP was invited for the very first time to take part in this extraordinary event, what follows is just a short report!
The appointment was on Villacoublay's 107 airbase, south of Paris, very early in the morning, so that we could attend the crew and pilot's briefings, and then a second aircraft-specific briefing.
For the flight over Paris we boarded EC725 R2 Caracal (French Air Force), that flew from Cazaux -EH 1/7 Pyrénées. The aircraft was part of the « Air Force Helicopters » display, comprising 2 boxes : 3 Fennec and then 1 Super-Puma together with 2 Caracal.The whole operation was brilliantly led by Lt-Colonel Goffinon, EH 3/67 Parisis Commander-in-Chief.
Time on target at the beginning of the Champs Elysées was set at 11.28hrs, the difference on arrival was under 3 seconds. The flight duration was around 1 hour, with a number of circles over the capital, in order for each aircraft to take its position while waiting for the parade on the ground.
Caracal n° 2802 is mainly used to transport CPA30 (Commando Parachutiste de l'Air n° 30) based in Bordeaux-Mérignac whose main mission is CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) that is to say to exfiltrate pilots (or any kind of personnel) fallen behind enemy lines. Our flight took place with members of this unit, with open doors in real operational conditions.
Despite relatively unfavourable weather conditions, the flight over Paris is a magical moment, especially when flying at 600 ft (200 m) with only empty space under one's feet. Flying between the tall buildings of “La Défense”, at the level of the top floors was extremely impressive and worthy of in in-flight scenes of any summertime blockbuster.
After the formation overflight of the Official Stand, we flew back in order, either back to our point of departure or towards another destination in connection with the National Day. For our part we flew back to Villacoublay where we had the opportunity to see the French President's Falcon 7X.
I would like sincerely to thank Lt-Colonel Goffinon without whom I am sure my flight would have been impossible, thanks also are due to SIRPA that validated my request.
Many thanks also to the Caracal crew, Capitaines Bayle and Jeannin, respectively Pilot and Captain and Sergent-Chef Roth, hold Master, for their availability and their constant willingness to answer questions.
Thanks are also due to Capitaine S
eitz, BA107 for the constant attention she gave to yours truly and to the members of CPA30 who, behind their painted faces, are most pleasant flight companions!

Beginning of the briefings in EH 3/67 Parisis facilities The day's mission-specific radio callsigns
Time over the entrance of the Champs Elysées The Dauphin and its French Navy crew, our apron neighbours
French Navy NH90 Caiman The Dauphin seen through the French Navy Panther tail rotor
French Navy Panther -French Navy 36F, based in Hyères
Our Caracal, Sierra Kilo
Inside the Caracal
With the CPA30 men Final adjustments
The French Navy group taxiing
Fennec taking off Ready to go
The photographer photographed Super Puma in our sights
Our Group meets the Pau ALAT (Aviation Légère de l'Armée de Terre)
Group, with 2 Gazelle, 1 Tigre and 1 Caracal
one of the many castles around Paris
Concentration before the Paris overflight
Super Puma over the forest... One behind the other, a perfect organisation
... and over the Seine Flying at the level of "La Défense" high-rise buildings
The Invalides dome and Tour Montparnasse The Invalides esplanade
The Eiffel Tower, Tour Montparnasse and the Trocadéro The Eiffel Tower
The Trocadéro Back to Villacoublay, landing in 27

The Presidential Falcon 7X

Super Puma stopover
Caracal inside and outside views CPA30, whatever is lost, they go and fetch it
Caracal inside and outside views Caracal inside and outside views

Tail rotor

Sierra Kilo details Sierra Kilo details
Sierra Kilo details Hands
Sierra Kilo The Hold Master being interviewed for TV
1/67 Pyrénées, sharp men... ...for a high performance machine

National Days main page - Reports Menu - Homepage