are several kinds of airshows: big, small, organized by aeroclubs, air
bases or large air forces. But besides those, there are those
organized and supported by major sponsors.
The show in Sion, although indirectly supported by the Swiss Air
Force, is a "private" show organized and sponsored by the
famous Breitling chronograph brand, which once again demonstrated the
great cohesion between the Swiss watchmaker and the world of aviation.
Everyone knows the "Breitling fleet", the Jet Team and its
aero L.39 led by Jacques Bothelin, the Wingwalkers, the charming young
ladies who do physical exercises on the Stearman wings, the various
"warbirds", and other aerobatic aircraft.
We all have the fabulous raid in mind of the Breitling DC3 (HB-IRJ)
which has just realized tour around the world. There are no more air
shows in Europe, or elsewhere for that matter, where one of these
aircraft is not present. Almost all the planes bearing the colors of
the Swiss watchmaker were present in Sion.
But Breitling is not only a great sponsor capable of maintaining and
restoring aircraft to superbly flying state, it is also a formidable
During the show in Sion, we were able to appreciate the Swiss
precision: A perfect show, well prepared with a steady rhythm,
variety, noise, both reactors and propellers. The Breitling fleet was
present in numbers, but also many Swiss guests representing the armed
forces, such as the FA-18 Hornet, the Super Puma, the PC-7 Team and
the Swiss aerobatic team in its natural habitat, but also many known
or lesser known "warbirds", proving once again that
Switzerland is truly a country of aeronautical heritage.
The presence of foreign solo displays such as the Belgian F-16AM solo
display, the French Rafale Solo Display, the Hungarian Gripen, the
more rare German Eurofighter, and the Italian Frecce-Tricolori, who
were "smoking" as always.
These well-known displays get a whole new force at Sion, an extra
dimension. We all know the skills of "Gizmo" (the talented
Belgian pilot) when he appears above the Flemish plains, facing the
coast or in the great English shows. But Gizmo in the mountains, is
something else, it's even more spectacular. The same was true for the
French Rafale, which, in its splendid livery, tore through the
Valaisan landscape: A true delight. And with regard to these two
pilots, Belgian and French, "Gizmo" and "Marty",
it is worth pointing out that they are nearing the end of their
mission as demonstration pilots, next year will see two new pilots on
the circuit. They already have our gratitude for having made us shake
for the past three years.
This year, the presence of the different foreign solo displays took on
an additional dimension. Indeed, the Swiss armed forces, like others
elsewhere, undertook an evaluation and selection process to replace
their fleet of existing fighter planes. (the potential F-5 and the
F/A-18, which should leave active service in 2030). The same applies
to other European countries which also have to renew their fleet (such
as Belgium, Austria and others).
The show in Sion was thus, in this particular context, more than a
simple airshow, we had a clear impression of being at a trade show. In
Sion, not only watches were sold, they also sought to sell airplanes.
It should be remembered that the Swiss democratic system leaves plenty
of room for referenda and that even the choice of a new plane for the
armed forces is subject to the opinion of the people. This is why the
large companies concerned and interested had deployed great means to
Sion. The commercial booths of Dassault, Airbus and Saab were given a
prominent place in order to attract not only future buyers, but also
the Swiss people, who will soon have a say about it.
Control of the skies, neutrality and sovereignty are major notions in
Switzerland and that is why the public was present in great numbers,
to pay tribute to their army, but also to see the evolution of the
plane, which may one day proudly wear the cockade of their country!
So, soon the Rafale, the Eurofighter or the Gripen? The discussions
are still ongoing.
So yes, the Breitling Sion Airshow was a wonderful show, but not just
a simple airshow, it was also a commercial show. Would this kind of
event be the key to success for builders?
We are already awaiting the next edition, because we know that while
in Switzerland large shows are rare, they are of great quality, the
presentations are often exceptional, and the international public is
not to be ignored. We always will come back to Sion for mountains and