In July 2015 the Swiss Air Force jet demonstration team, the Patrouille Suisse, paid a visit to Ireland for the annual Bray Air Spectacular, and IrishAirPics was there to catch the team arriving at Baldonnel, their temporary home for the weekend, and also display at Bray.
Thursday, 16th July, Baldonnel - the Patrouille Suisse arrive, marking the start of a very busy weekend for myself and Sonya. We crossed the country four times in the pursuit of pictures at the Shannon and Bray air displays, as well as trying to catch some of the arrivals for both shows.
Arrival at Baldonnel
Patrouille Suisse crews chatting after landing at Baldonnel
It was wet, very wet, when the team arrived, but courtesy of the Irish Air Corps I was placed in the back of the Follow Me car that led the team to their parking spaces on the ramp, and thankfully the car provided some shelter.
The team landed on the damp runway, brake parachutes trailing, seven aircraft in total. The team displays with six Northrop F-5E Tiger II supersonic fighter jets, six of the aircraft that arrived were painted in the distinctive red and white colours of the team, but as an added bonus the seventh spare aircraft was a standard grey F-5.
Earlier this year fatigue cracks were discovered in some of the Swiss Air Force's fleet of F-5's, and some of the aircraft that were affected were team aircraft. As a result the team flew with a mixed formation of red and white team aircraft, and standard grey aircraft for some displays carried out earlier in the display season.
Swiss Ambassador to Ireland, Marie-Claude Meylan, welcomes the team to Ireland
By the time of their visit to Ireland though enough aircraft had been repaired and painted into Patrouille Suisse colours for a full complement of six aircraft to fly in the team colours.
And as luck would have it, it stopped raining just as the team arrived on the ramp, where they were met by Irish & Swiss dignitaries led by the Swiss Ambassador to Ireland, Marie-Claude Meylan. As an aside, Mrs. Meylan holds a private pilot's licence, she is an active flyer, and is also married to an Aer Lingus captain, so she is no stranger to aviation.
A quick run up and down the line of aircraft on the ramp for photos was carried out in case the rain returned, this turned out to be a prudent move as the rain did return, worse than ever. There was one more Swiss Air Force movement to wait for, the arrival of the team's support Beechcraft 1900. This was photographed from under the (relative) shelter of an Air Corps CASA CN-235's wing.
At this point it was time to leave Baldonnel, goodbyes were said and we headed for Shannon, returning to Bray on Sunday to catch the Patrouille Suisse in action.
Bray - Show Day
Patrouille Suisse at Bray - Team Video
After a hectic few days of driving and flying, it was time for the Bray Air Spectacular.
The plan for airshow day would have Sonya cover the action from the ground, while Frank, courtesy of Se Pardy and the air show organisers, was to photograph the special Patrouille Suisse and Aer Lingus A319 formation as it arrived to the air show, from an Executive Helicopters Twin Squirrel flown by Billy Doyle.
Flying from the side of Bray Head we took off and waited for the formation to arrive, and as with all things in aviation photography, nothing is guaranteed until it's in front of your lens, but sure enough the formation does arrive and the shots are in the bag.
Once the formation splits up and the Airbus returns to Dublin Airport, we land the helicopter in order to clear the airspace for the Patrouille Suisse to display. The team performed as flawless as ever, their sleek red and white classic jets zipping through the sky, occasionally popping flares.
And then all too soon, the display was over, the team performed their last break, the Grande, popping flares as they climbed.
And that was it, the show was over. We returned to the air show Press Centre, gave them the best shots from the helicopter, packed our bags and headed for home at the end of a very busy weekend, but thoroughly enjoyable, weekend.
A big Thank You goes to: IrishAirPics wishes to thank Captain Sean McCarthy of the Irish Air Corps, Se Pardy, the organiser of the Bray Air Spectacular and Billy Doyle of Executive Helicopters for their help, assistance and flying during the visit of the Patrouille Suisse to Ireland.