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Shots fired in the Bernese Oberland

SWITZERLAND | Monday, 15 October 2007 | Views [734]

Every year, the Swiss Air Force is in action above the lake of Brienz in the Bernese Alps. The show is opened to the public for 2 days, during which the small village of Axalp is invaded by aerofanatics armed to their teeth with the latest and biggest camera ever seen! With my not-so-small DCR, I really looked like an amateur compared with the real fans and their lenses worth the price of a new car. Still, there were people using their mobile phone to catch a buzzing jet flying directly overhead.

It took us a couple of hours to make it to a ridge above the lake of Brienz, which was mostly covered by a “sea of fog”. The scenery was splendid, and justified in itself the trip up there. But the thousands of people hiking up the mountain were here to get their eardrums blasted. Roaring F-5 Tiger shooting just over your head, hitting every time rather small targets, before pulling up and almost surf the face of the mountain up. Hornets were also in the show, coming from below in the valley, the more rapid rattle of their canon shattering the orange targets. And it was only a rehearsal for the real thing in the afternoon.

The long lunch break saw a true ballet of Super Puma helicopters bringing up the VIPs. All the Swiss Air Force brass was here, but also representative of foreign military, like the commander-in-chief of the French Air Force. Then, with a typically Swiss - and military – punctuality, the show began with 4 pairs of Tigers coming and shooting from all direction. The effect was spectacular, and I was quite happy not to be the target. Then a Cougar helicopter fired all his flares, sending a huge cloud of smoke down the valley. The F-18 Hornets came next, showing their skills in air to air shooting, with rock blasting of their own of course. The display ended on a demonstration of the Patrouille Suisse, and the sight of the red Tigers against the mountains was simply wonderful. No wonder then that the parking in town was dotted with cars coming from all the surrounding countries. This is a unique and famous event in the small world of aerofanatics.

Tags: planes trains & automobiles

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