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Meeting National de l'Air
St Dizier Air Base, France
June 18, 2011
Philip Stevens reports: The Meeting National de l'Air at St Dizier Air Base celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the air base and also 30,000 hours flown by the Dassault Rafale which is flown from here. It has been reported that 50,000 people attended the event over the weekend which was well attended by aircraft from across Europe and beyond. Two based Rafales wonderfully and identically painted in a grey and black scheme to commemorate the 30,000 hours flown were on show, one of which flew a stunning solo display.

The bizaar weather on Saturday hampered some of the flying due to the extreme nature of the hailstone showers. No less than three display teams, the Patrouille de France, Red Arrows and the Breitling team all put on crowd pleasing performances. The RAF (Tornado GR4 pair), Swiss (F/A-18C Hornet) and Belgian (F-16AM Fighting Falcon) air forces provided indvidual performances of note. With 'warbird' displays which included a Vampire, Magister and T-28 Fennec added much to the varied feast of aircraft flying for the spectators.
For me the minute jet-powered Avion Colomban MC-15 Cri Cri (Cricket)was an eye-opener. It is so small and yet so quick with its twin jets that were smaller than the spats which covered the three wheels. The aircraft was designed by engineer Michel Colomban in 1970 originally powered by two propeller engines of 15 hp each for a speed of 106 mph (170 km/h). Charmont Nicolas later modified a Cri Cri with turbines increasing its cruising speed 149 mph (240 km/h).
Dassault Rafale C (118 '113-IW') in special scheme to commemorate 30,000 hours flown by the aircraft type
Left to right: Painted as a Mistral (F-AZOP 'DU-M') it is really an FFA-built Vampire fighter, formerly J-1192 of the Swiss Air Force. Fouga CM-170 Magister (369 now F-GPCJ). F/A-18C Hornet (J-5017).
Left to right: Avion Colomban MC-15 Cri Cri 'Cricket' (F-PCLF c/n 533). North American T-28A Fennec 'Trojan' (F-AZHR '517749') and one of the two attending MD-311 Flamont (260 '316-KT' F-AZKT) preparing for its display that was later cancelled due to the approaching hail storm.
Panavia Tornado GR.4 (ZA607 '070') in 617 squadron markings taxiing out for its display.
Left to right: The three Tornado GR.4s (ZA492 '033', ZA607 '070' in 617 squadron markings and ZA842 '105' in XV Squadron markings).
Left to right: The F-16AM Fighting Falcon of the Belgian Air Component solo display aircraft.
Left to right: Rafale C (118 '113-IW') in special scheme to commemorate 30,000 hours flown by the aircraft type.

The Display Teams
Left to right: Alpha Jet Es of the Patroille de France the Armée de l'Air display team. The first image shows the hailstones covering the ramp.
Left to right: Hawk T.1s of the Red Arrows.
Left to right: The Breitling teams Estonian registered L-39s.

On the Saturday the weather was remarkable in how it changed from a warm sunny day to hail showers almost every hour in the afternoon. The hailstones were the size of malteazers and packed a punch if they hit you. I was cowering under a pomme frite stand as the hailstones came down and the wind blew over fences and the flying was periodically suspended. The sequence of images taken of the C-47 parked opposite my location during the afternoon reflect the changes in weather.
Left to right: Douglas C-47B Skytrain (F-AZOX ex F-GIDK) following completion of its restoration in 2010 it has been painted in US military markings. It is operated by Chalair Aviation.
Left to right: Douglas DC-3 Dakota (F-AZOX).