Bleuciel Airshow and Hamilton Free Flight World Masters

Filed in Team News by on 13th October 2013

Our last SWIP display of the year was Bleuciel’s show at Sainte-Maxime on the French Riviera, one of the few towns in France holding a sea-side airshow and only a few miles from St Tropez, summer playground of the international celebrity set, Hollywood stars and Russian oligarchs. The area is famed for its sunshine and warm weather and timed late in the year to keep tourists on the Cote D’Azure at the end of the season. Our flight south was blessed with a strong tailwind that got us to our Châteauroux fuel stop in record time, and onto the Navy base of Cuers near Toulon.

The local airfield to St Tropez, La Môle, sits in a steep valley, and unique to France requires a Mountain Rating or a local check flight before landing. The runway is a little over 1000m, so no problem for the performance of a Twister, but the surrounding hills and unusual circuit require a good briefing. The airfield ‘reconnaissance’ flight was in the club’s Socata TB-9, a new type for both of us and thanks must go to Roger Pessidous for his patience flying a morning of circuits with us. With the signoff completed, we could bring the Twisters into La Môle, our operating base for the rest of the weekend.

The airshow was based around Bleuciel’s ‘Free flight – World Masters’ series, a mini competition held during the airshow where selected pilots fly a 4-minute freestyle program with the winner judged by the applause of the crowd. The flights are separated by commentary, music from a celebrity DJ and dancing girls – a winning combination!

The display site at Sainte-Maxime was one of the more challenging. A tight bay with a prominent harbor area that pushed the 150m-display line away from the crowded beach.

We flew a mandatory ‘rehearsal’ flight followed by four displays over the weekend, and due to local restrictions at La Môle, our pyro shows were both before sunset – and although it reduced the impact of the illuminations and pyro a little, the orange glow of the setting sun made for a beautiful spectacle and featured on the TF1 news channel, France’s No.1 domestic TV network.

The French DGAC are brining in a Display Authorization, similar to the British and Swiss ratings ahead of EASA European legislation in 2015 and we volunteered to be guinea pigs for the new French DA.

Our thanks must go to the Bleuciel Airshow organization, and in particular Veronique and Laurent Cahuzat for the invitation, Christophe Saccoman for the support at La Môle and Jean-Patrick Vermare (ICEprod) for the stunning photographs.

Our tradition of grading flights, not by the scenery or route, but by the quality of the inflight snacks stepped up a gear on the flight home, with a full sized Pizza! – Living the Dream!

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