Shadows and Light' The Axalp Experience and Guide    Axalp 2005    Axalp 2006

Swiss Air Force's Air Power Demonstration

Ebenfluh Firing Range, Axalp
October 10-11, 2007
This years Swiss Air Force's annual air power demonstration at the spectacular Ebenfluh firing range, once again followed a tried and tested formula. The two day event coincides with school holidays in Switzerland and is very well attended by the local community. This is despite the testing climb to the range from Axalp village. The serious enthusiast of which there are many hundreds, will start the climb well before the sun comes up.

My reports from previous years deal with the event in some detail and so for the most part are not repeated on this page. The participants and demonstrations vary little from previous Air Power Demonstrations. The images below reflect this years event, which as in previous years, took place over two days (Wednesday and Thursday), Each morning starting at 09:00 practise displays, which includes live firing, are flown over the range for two hours and almost emulates the main show or air power demonstration which starts at 14:00. The extended lunch break is used for helicopter liaison and the ferrying of VIP's and the media from Meiringen air base. The whole day is filled with spectacular action and excellent photographic opportunities.

The weather will always play a part at Axalp, weeks of  mild weather meant that the normally snow covered north facing slopes were just brown grass. This year's event was also affected by banks low cloud. Tuesday's practise day and Wednesday's demonstration day were both cut short, when flying was abandoned during the afternoon, after cloud had filled parts of the valley. On the plus side the atmospheric conditions resulted in very impressive vortices from the jets as they pulled high 'G' turns through the valley.
The F-5E Tiger II with vortices in the overcast conditions
At 14:00 the show opened with a Cougar helicopter demonstrating the RUAG Aerospace Integrated Self Protection System (ISSYS), by ejecting 128 flares. Two Cougar's carrying containers of water released it on to the mountainside, as part of a fire-fighting demonstration. Cougar (T-335) approaches the control tower.
Agusta A109K2 (HB-XWH) operates as an air ambulance and is crewed by para-medics. It gave a demonstration of a simulated aerial rescue before going on standby.
Fifteen minutes into the show and the first fast jets appeared. Eight Meiringen based Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs in pairs attacked each of the three sets of targets flying from all points of the compass. At the end of their display they linked up for a formation flypast from the west. An additional pair of F-5Es fired volleys of shots into the targets before a pair of F/A-18Cs with two F-5Es in Patrouille Suisse scheme arrived at the scene in formation.
Left to right: Two pairs of F/A-18Cs and F-5Es gave a less than breath taking display, simulating air to air firing at a orange target banner towed by one of the Patrouille Suisse painted F-5Es. A low and slow-fly past by one of these F-5Es gave photographers the best shot of the banner towing equipped aircraft. The target towing equipment (possibly a Saab MBV-2S banner winching system) uses a 500m cable to tow the orange target. The target is equipped with a microphone and transmitter which sends information on the number of hits to a receiver on the aircraft for data analysis.
Next to appear were four Payerne based F/A-18Cs conducting air-to-ground strafing demonstrations and fast runs through the valley below, before joining up for a formation flyby.
Left to right: F/A-18Cs (J-5013 and J-5003).
Out in the sun, the F/A-18C Hornet solo-display pulling 'G' and producing brilliant vapour effects and vortices.
The solo Hornet each day started its spectacular display by dispensing flares before performing a series of fast runs through and across the valley. The final pass was a slow pass with wheels down.
As usual Patrouille Suisse finished off the show with close formation passes in their distinctive red and white F-5Es. The full Patrouille Suisse display routine was modified to the terrain adds an extra dimension to an already well polished routine.
Their 20-minute display was flown towards the end through a haze of blue smoke which was now lingering in the valley, providing in some instances some interesting lighting effects.

The cloud comes in and Tuesdays practice display is terminated for safety reasons mid-afternoon, but not before a number of passes have been made and a simulated aerial rescue.
Left to right: F-5E Tiger II (J-3079), Agusta A109K2 (HB-XWH) and F/A-18C Hornet (J-5006)
Eventually conditions worsen and the Swiss Air Force Commander gives the decision to end flying operations for the day. The control tower area is evacuated immediately leaving the few walkers to make their way back down the valley.
Left to right: Aérospatiale Alouette III and AS.332M-1 Super Puma (V-243 and T-324).