Text: Bruno Ghils -Pictures: Bruno Ghils & Laurent Casaert - Translation: David Niemegeerts   © sbap 2017
 
Mysterious Swiss Mountains (Bruno Ghils©) 
 








 

There 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 organizer.
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 planes!

 
 World tour DC-3 from Breiting (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) We are clear in the "Valais"  (Bruno Ghils©)
Agusta A 109 K2 from Rega Helicopter (Bruno Ghils©) Aerospatiale SA 315B Lama from Swissheli (Bruno Ghils©)
 A look in the possible new fighter...  (Bruno Ghils©) ...and in the old F-5 (Bruno Ghils©)
 A beautiful tail for thios F-5  (Bruno Ghils©) Pilatus PC-21 (Bruno Ghils©)
 PBY-5A Catalina from UK  (Bruno Ghils©) Grumman TBM-3R Avenger  (Bruno Ghils©)
 Yakovlev Yak-9  (Bruno Ghils©) Antonov An-2  (Bruno Ghils©)
 Dewoitine D-26   (Bruno Ghils©) Alfred Comte AC 4 Gentleman   (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) Catalina in action  (Bruno Ghils©)
 Sukhoi SU-26M  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 Belgian Air Force F-16AM solo display  "Gizmo" in the mountains  (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Laurent Casaert©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Laurent Casaert©)
(Laurent Casaert©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Laurent Casaert©)
 (Laurent Casaert©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma solo display  (Bruno Ghils©)
 The Niebergall team   (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 The son with a RC model...  (Bruno Ghils©) ...and the father with the real SF.260  (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Laurent Casaert©) (Bruno Ghils©)

(Bruno Ghils©)

 (Laurent Casaert©)
 (Bruno Ghils©)
 PC-7 team commentator  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 The PC-7 team with his patry landscape  (Laurent Casaert©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) The Red Bull Blanix team  (Laurent Casaert©)
 Dassault Mirage III DS  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 Breitling FlyBoard demonstration  (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) The Classic Formation with DC-3 and Beech 18  (Laurent Casaert©)
 "Frecce Tricolori" or how to smoke the valley  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) Hawker Hunter T68  (Bruno Ghils©)
 Pilatus PC-7 Turbo Trainer  (Bruno Ghils©) The Italian "Pioneer Team"  (Laurent Casaert©)
 North American T-6G Harvard  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) Hawker Hurricane Mk XIIA  (Laurent Casaert©)
 Dassault Rafale C solo display  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
(Laurent Casaert©) "Marty" in action for his last season  (Bruno Ghils©)
 McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet solo display  (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 The beast in his natural element  (Laurent Casaert©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) German Eurofighter Typhoon  EF2000 solo display  (Laurent Casaert©)
 The "Breitling Jet Team"  (Bruno Ghils©) (Laurent Casaert©)
 North American Rockwell OV-10B Bronco   (Bruno Ghils©) Hungary Air Force Saab JAS-39C Gripen solo display  (Laurent Casaert©)
 Pilatus P3-05   (Bruno Ghils©) Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter  (Bruno Ghils©)
 The great final: the "Patrouille Suisse" and the Embraer Emb-190-100LR from Helvetic Airways  (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Laurent Casaert©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 (Bruno Ghils©) (Bruno Ghils©)
 Time to set the "toys" back and waiting the next edition...   (Bruno Ghils©)


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