Patrouille de France To Perform At The Melbourne Air and Space Show
The French Air Force Patrouille de France jet demonstration team arrives at the Orlando Melbourne International Airport this afternoon around 12:30 PM. The French Air Force Patrouille de France jet demonstration team will perform at the 2017 Melbourne Air and Space Show sponsored by Northrop Grumman, April 1-2, 2017 at the Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Florida! It is the first time in over 30 years that the Patrouille de France will perform in the United States.
The Patrouille de France, or French Aerobatic Patrol, is to the French Air Force what the Thunderbirds are to the U.S. Air Force. The team of 8 Alpha Jets perform a 30 minute show of precision formation and solo maneuvers with tri-colored red, white and blue smoke. The team is based at Salon Air Force Base in France and will spend the month of April 2017 in the USA performing at only three air shows.
In 1931 France’s first aerobatic demonstration took place over Étampes-Mondésir. The demonstration was performed by the instructors from the local flying school. Following that the team performed through 1939 under the command of Captain Pierre Fleurquin, receiving considerable praise. During that time they were chosen to represent France at international events until the onset of World War II
In 1947 following the end of World War II, the Minister for the Air created an aerobatic team from the Air Force. Led by Captain Perrier, a former pilot from the Patrouille d’Étampes team of the 1930’s, it initially consisted of twelve aircraft. As their popularity increased, a number of similar units were formed within the Air Force. In 1952, a team of four F-84 aircraft was formed. In 1953, during an air show at Maison Blanche in Algeria, the show’s commentator, carried away by the spectacle he had just witnessed, gave the team the name “Patrouille de France”.
Over the following decade four separate French Air Force aerial display units continued to perform at both national and international events. In 1964 budget cuts led to reductions throughout the French Air Force, including the dissolution of all the aerial display units. A few months later, keen that the Patrouille de France name should not be lost, the Ministry of Defence decided to create an official “Patrouille de l’École de l’air”. Its team of six Fouga Magister aircraft were stationed at Salon-de-Provence Air Base and became France’s premier aerial display team for the next 16 years.
The final display involving the Fouga Magister was a nine aircraft team and took place on September 16, 1980 at their home base of Salon-de-Provence. They were replaced by seven Alpha Jets, with an additional plane added in 1982. The eight Alpha Jet team has remained unchanged to this day.
In 1986, the team took part in an historic fly-past above New York City, the last time they flew publicly in the USA over 30 years ago.