Monday 14 June 2010
On this day in 1860, the French flag replaced the duchy of Savoy flag for the first time in Nice. Today that event was celebrated with parachutists and a performance by the Patrouille de France, one of the world’s oldest aerobatic demonstration teams, formed in 1931. I grew up watching air shows at our local airport, and once saw the Blue Angels perform, so I was very much looking forward to today’s festivities. My expectations were far exceeded — the Patrouille de France, led by Virginie Guyot, the first woman ever (in the world) to lead an aerobatic demonstration team, was breathtaking, especially over the background of a particularly beautiful Mediterranean.
Despite there being quite the crowd, I was able to find a spot near the beach and Place Albert 1er, which was where the performances were set to take place. First, a group of 35 parachutists dropped into a formation supposed to be “150”, though we spectators had a hard time making it out in the blazing sun. They landed not far from where I was. Then it was time for the Patrouille de France’s performance.
They took off from Nice’s airport, their smoke trails on, and impressed us all with their first crowd fly-by. I ended up taking loads of photos, which you can browse in this set. My favorite is above, and the following are pretty nice too:
o Smoke trails over the Baie des Anges, showing the beautiful blues the Mediterranean decided to wear today. She doesn’t often look like this!
o Landing approach simulation also shows the gorgeous blues in the sea, and one of the Patrouille de France’s Alpha Jets flying with its landing gear down.
o Concorde formation!
o Threading the needle, although the literal translation of the description given by the announcer would be “flying through the center of a triangle”.
o This formation was neat as well, since the planes were constantly changing position.
o A star for the final formation.