|Text & Pictures: Régis Rocca - Translation: Charles Cassells © sbap 2015|
|After last year's
report, when your SBAP correspondent was invited for the first time to
take part in the 14th of July military parade, the French authorities
were kind enough to renew the experience this year.
After the Caracal, this time the flight over Paris was on board an AS 555 Fennec helicopter belonging to EH 5/67 " Parisis ", based on french AFB n°107 in Villacoublay. This is a multi-role squadron, but its main mission is the active implementation of air security measures (MASA). For this purpose, Parisis aircrews are on alert 24/7. The 3/67 Fennec can take off in a few minutes with a sniper on board to intercept an aircraft. This employment concept is unique, world-wide. EH 3/67 aicrews are regularly deployed over the entire French territory for the protection of summit meetings or public events.
After the briefing with the crew, the porders are simple : our aircraft is in the second Air Force helicopter box, together with a Super Puma (in blue, white and orange livery) of EH 1/44 " Solenzara " and a EH 1/67 " Pyrénées " Caracal. On board are the pilot, the co-pilot, two armed marksmen and your correspondent.
On the apron, all helicopters are ready for take-off and when the control tower gives the all-clear, there is a tremndous gut feeling of power and one cannot avoid thinking about the mythical scene in Apocalypse Now by F. Coppola.
The flight lasted about 1 hour and 15 minutes, in average weather conditions but with sunny intervals.Compared with last year's eperience, there was the pleasant surprise of a central view of the Champs Elysées. Flying past the La Défense buildings at rooftop level remains an incredible moment, with the windows seeming very close indeed. Paris is always a magical city, very impressive when you see it just under your feet.
The flight itself was a perfect example of control. Led by Capt. " Manu " and Lt. " Léon ", EH 3/67 members, there were no errors or hesitations. At 11.38 am and 25 seconds (as planned, to the exact second) we flew exactly over the Official stand, at a speed of 90 knots (167 km/h) and an altitude of 600 ft QNH (approx. 200 m above ground). Fennec n° 5516, callsign " Rapace 27 " kept its place and its rank giving all aboard an immense feeling of pride, shared by all the military personnel honoured on that day.
I would like to thank the DIRPA authorities who validated my flight this year again. My sincere gratitude goes to to the Fennec crew, " Manu " and " Léon " were always available to answer questions and very generous with their explanations.Many thanks also to Capt. Seitz, BA 107, for her kind attention and support. Thanks as well to all EH 3/67 " Parisis " members for their welcome and their sterling work, ensuring air security over France, 24/7.
|The helicopters on the starting line, French Air Force and French Army on one side, French Navy on the other.|
|"Sierra Kilo" Caracal, aboard which I flew over Paris on July the 14th, 2014.|
|A French Navy Dauphin...|
|...and its crew before engine start...||...next to it the big and powerful Caïman|
|A Securité Civile Canadair, ready for take-off||Gendarmerie Nationale EC135 duo|
|Tension is palpable, all crews are ready to go|
|Taxiing, in marching order||Look behind: we're being followed|
|All present and accounted for||A few seconds|
|And they're off!||Take-off|
|Box formation with "Sierra Charlie" Caracal and SuperPuma|
|Versailles and its palace|
|Crossing various French Army boxes, while holding position|
Flying over La
Défense office buildings
|11.38hrs, l'Etoile, the Arc de Triomphe and the mechanized part of the parade on the Champs Elysées|
|Caracal, Butte Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur|
|The Pompidou Arts Centre|
|Let's be tourists: Tour Montparnasse, the Eiffel Tower and La Défense||Les Invalides|
|The great Lady of Paris||Trocadéro|
|An French Army Tiger, landing|
|French Gendarmerie box…|
|My ride for the flypast: Fennec AS555 n°5516, "Whisky Delta" of EH 3/67 "Parisis"|
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