Hide hazelnuts...Chipmunk invasion !

Text &  Pictures : Luc Dujardin © sbap 2011




From September 1st until September 3rd, the European Helicopter Cup was held at Le Touquet-Paris-Plage. The championship took place at Le Touquet-Côte d’Opale International Airport (LFAT). This airport is close to the Channel and has a single runway (14/316) which was closed to air traffic during the contest. 2011 is a special year : the city Le Touquet is celebrating its centennial, Le Touquet airport  its 75th anniversary, and the SEMAT (Société d’économie mixte de l’aéroport du Touquet) has also this year its 50th anniversary. The European Helicopter Cup was organized by the Fédération Française de Giraviation and by the city of Le Touquet committee.



Helicopters and crews had already arrived on Tuesday. Wednesday was the first day with a general briefing about the contest’s rules and air safety. Helicopters are able to perform precision flights and that is why these machines are used not only for search and rescue operations, but also to bring supply to off-shore platforms or ships at sea, as well as scientific observations, among others. The European Helicopter Cup is made of five tests. All of them are conceived as a demonstration of the capabilities of the helicopter when it is civilian operated. This year the last test (“free style flight”) was not performed and the classification thus contains only four tests.


Stage 1: The first test is a navigation flight. The flight plan is opened by the helicopter crew only five minutes prior to takeoff. The flight consists of a 100 kilometer search for 10 waypoints where bags must be dropped onto the ground. This test is typical for   humanitarian flights, where helicopters search for victims or drop food or medicine to isolated people or difficult places.


Stage 2: The second test is a precision flight with constant altitude and heading. The flight pattern is a square of 200 meters. The altitude of the chopper must be within 2 and 3 meters. Two ropes are attached to the helicopter. One of them must always be in contact with the ground and the second must always be vertical and may never touch the ground. The altitude variation is only1 meter. The helicopter’s heading cannot change, so the pilot has to fly forward, laterally or backwards. Two complete rotations must be performed within 15 seconds at two square’s angles of the pattern. The landing which concludes the test is a precision one, evaluated in centimeters by the judges.


Stage 3: The third test is called “fender”. A fender is a kind of big buoy in the shape of a sausage and is used in harbors to avoid boats to bang the quay or other ships. Every crew takes a fender attached to a rope of 4, 6 and 8 meters long. The purpose of the test is the insertion of the fender into 3 containers hardly wider and arranged at random in square of 50 meters. The order of dropping is drawn before takeoff and the crew has 10 seconds to put the fender. Passed this deadline, penalties are counted. During the flight, the pilot does not see the fender nor the container, so the co-pilot has to guide him and has to correct the move of the fender (about 10 kg) and try to put it into the containers. This test is directly inspired by the search and rescue missions.


Stage 4: The fourth test is a slalom. The helicopter takes off with an empty bucket attached to a 5 meter long rope. The crew has to fill the bucked first with water from a barrel. The flight then continues and the bucket, still suspended on the rope, has to pass between twelve doors. These doors are made of 2 pickets spaced out by about 1 meter. After the slalom, the helicopter has to rise to completely spread the ling. The bucket then hangs 11 meters under the machine and the co-pilot has to guide the pilot  in order to place the bucket on a table and if possible in the center of them. The crew has only 3 minutes and 30 seconds to complete the performance. The judges measure the remaining water quantity in the bucket and the position of the bucket on the table by the millimeter.


Stage 5: The last test (which was not performed this year) is usually a free style flight. The pilot fly alone, without co-pilot, he may use smoke and music, but he must fly in less than 4 minutes into a square of 500 meters and may not rise above an altitude of 150 meters. My regret was that this test was not in the program this year, because regarding the previous performances it was supposed to be a great and impressive demonstration of virtuosity.

If you are interested in more pictures of this event, be advised that a video and a book about the championship 2011 will be soon published. The organizers will indicate the publication on their website www.european-helicopter-cup.com    So keep connected...


Championship 2011
Slalom with a bucket  
Memory notes of the different flight included in the competition
The Belgian participant from Temploux airfield  
  The co-pilots has a great resposability in the guidance
The Russian are the great winners of the competition  
The fender flight  

This year, the winner of the European Helicopter Cup was a Russian crew with Evgenia KURPITKO as pilot and Vladimir STRIYONOK as co-pilot. They flew with the Robinson R44-R2 F-GZMY. At second and third place two other Russian crews who flew the same helicopter. At second place Yuri YABLOKOV (pilot) and Georgy ARBUZOV (co-pilot) at third place Andrei OREKHOV (pilot) and Victor KALININ (co-pilot). The Belgian crew (Jacques BERLO and Pierre PORTZENHEIM) who participated with the Robinson R44-R2 OO-ISA from Temploux Aeroclub, ended the contest at the eleventh place.

Complete results can be found on : http://www.helico.org/spip.php?article113


Le Touquet is also the home base of a SA365N Dauphin (s/n 157) detached from the French Navy Flotille 35F and operated by two military crews. The machine is flying about 440 hours a year and makes an amount of 60 to 80 scrambles each year. The main mission of this helicopter is search and rescue, but other flights are also performed like surveillance of fishing, fight against pollution, struggle against drugs and naval police task. This Dauphin constitutes the north part of a vaster monitoring and rescue system deployed along the French coasts. French Navy Dauphin are deployed in Le Touquet, in Cherbourg, in La Rochelle and in Hyères. Another rescue helicopter was present at Le Touquet airport this week-end. It was the EC-145 (F-ZBPQ s/n 9031) which is operated by the Sécurité civile at Issy-les-Moulineau, near Paris.


75th anniversary visitors
French Navy Flotille 35F Aerospatial SA360N "Dauphin" detached by the French Navy at Le Touquet
Courtesy visit from the Navy pilots to their colleagues of the Air Force
  Eurocopter EC-145 "Sécurité civile"
Aérospatiale AS 355 F1 Eurocopter EC-120
Le Touquet - Paris Plage tarmac Le Touquet based Piper PA-19
Flight Design CTSW Beechcraft A36 "Bonanza"
Reims-Cessna F406 Vigilant Antonov An-26B from Aviavilsa (Lituania)
Piper Warrior III Piper PA-46R-350T Malibu
Cirrus SR22 Avions Pierre Robin DR 400-140 B
Piper PA-28-181 Cherokee Archer II Avions Pierre Robin DR 400-120
SOCATA TB20 "Trinidad" Cirrus SR20

When arriving at Le Touquet on Friday, the weather forecast was very good and it proved right. It was a little bit smoggy in the early morning, but thanks to the wind, it quickly became clear and sunny. Friday’s tests were stage 4 in the morning from 9h00 till 11h00 and stage 3 in the afternoon from 14h00 till 16h00.  The Saturday morning was planned as a public exhibition at Le Touquet airport during the last trials (“free style flights”) and the Saturday afternoon was forseen for displays on the beach including a Patrouille de France demonstration. As I was not able to be present at Le Touquet on Saturday, I tought that I would not be able to see the famous French Air Force display team but, they came to Le Touquet on Friday. The first 3 Alpha Jets landed at 11h40 and the last 8 aircraft at around 12h30. The support C-160 Transall, with technical crew, landed at 14h27. The rehearsal flight was done in the afernoon above the beach. Pilots and crews were very kind and answered positively to all our request without any difficulties. They did not came from their home base of Salon-de-Provence, but directly from Pontoise, where another display was planned on Sunday.

Four civilian people came at Le Touquet with the Patrouille de France. They were the winners of a tombola organized by the Thierry Latran Foundation, the prizes being a whole day with the Patrouille de France. The Thierry Latran Foundation is dedicated to the financing and the research to find out a treatment for the amyotrophic side hardening. This disease is better known under the name of Charcot syndrome. People affected by this disease lose their capacity to walk, to speak and to breathe. Their average life expectancy is only 3 years. To date, there is no cure.  The Thierry Latran Foundation is the only one in Europe, which dedicates itself to this type of research. The four winners who accompanied the Patrouille de France in Le Touquet, were enchanted by this amazing day. How could they not be so, considering such beautiful weather conditions and the opportunity to participate humbly, but actively in the medical research?

More infos :  http://www.fondation-thierry-latran.org


With the 
Patrouille de France

Arrival at Le Touquet on Friday... ...for rehearsal and the show on the beach on Saturday
  The friendship is also an important part of the team spirit
Technicians are taking the planes over  
  French cocarde as nose whell target...original !
Clean, clean, clean ! The leader Cdt Cédric Tranchon
  Hot debriefing at arrival
C-160 crew, the transport of the PAF Technician office in the C-160 cargo bay
Turn around... and preparation for the afternoon training
The publicity car of the team Movement around the planes
  Here we go !  
Start up... ...and verifications
"Comme à la parade" Taxiing
Salute to his pilot  
Going to the holding point After the trainin flight
Le Touquet - Paris Plage airport and the presence of the "Patrouille de France" to celebrate the 75th anniversary


    Patrouille de France 2011    
    Athos 01 :
Cdt Cédric Tranchon
  Athos 02 :
Cne Guillaume Smets
  Athos 03 :
Cne Philippe Castagnet
Athos 05 :
Cne Paco Wallraet
  Athos 04 : 
Cdt Gauthier Dewas
  Athos 06 :
Cne Jean-Noël Guy
  Athos 07 :
Cne Sylvain Pillet
  Athos 08 :
Cne : Antoine Hauser
    Athos 09 :
Cne Ludovic Bourgeon


Unfortunately, the sea mist which arrived on Saturday afternoon forced the Patrouille de France to stay on the ground
prevented the public from the benefit of the air display.



Acknowledgements :
Special thanks to Mrs
. Isabelle Deffain-Braun and all the European Helicopter Cup team for the  pleasant welcome and the perfect organization.
Many thanks to the Patrouille de France pilots and crews and
last but not least to the Cne Stephane Azou, Patrouille de France’s  public relations officer.


 Special effects...



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