11 October 2010

Festa al Cel 2010 - Barcelona's Air Show

Last weekend, the skies around our place roared to life with the varied engine sounds from aircraft participating in Festa al Cel - Barcelona's annual airshow which is held along the beaches.

Practice Days were Thursday and Friday with the main event spread over Saturday and Sunday. Although the programme was almost the same for the 2 days, there were single appearances by some specialist aircraft, so I sat down on the beach for the Friday practice and both Saturday's and Sunday's performances. I wasn't going to miss a thing!

Diamant Formation

One of the highlights of the show was the French airforce's precision team - Patrouille de France. For the first time in its almost 80-year history, the group is being led by a woman - Commandant Virginie Guyot. In fact, her leadership is the first for any demonstration team, worldwide.

Guyot received her wings in 2002 and was assigned to the MIG reconnaissance squadron 2/33 Savoie. She saw action in Chad, Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and in 2007 she was promoted to Squadron Leader, before being made Commandant in 2009. On November 25th 2009, she was appointed leader of Patrouille de France, a position that she is due to vacate next month, as no one can serve as the team's leader for more than a year.

Croisillon Formation

The team's maneuvers are a joy to watch because of their precision and the proximity of each aircraft to the others. It's as if there are ropes, of identical lengths, joining the planes together. The turns, in particular, are marvellous to watch. The whole team turns as one, on a singular plane, pivoting on the inward aircraft whilst the group maintains a knifelike profile. During the turns, the re-positioning of aircraft into different formations happens so silkily that it's easy to miss their singular movements.

Diving down - straight down

Based at Salon-de-Provence, Patrouille de France flies 8 Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet trainer/light assault planes which, in the French Airforce, are used as trainer aircraft. Patriotically painted in tricoleur red white and blue, smoke generators have been installed where the guns are usually situated. Lights have been installed on the nose of each aircraft to enhance their head-on approaches.

My images were taken over 2 days which accounts for the varying weather conditions appearing in the shots. Illumination of the aircraft also depended on their positions relative to the sun. Unfortunately for most of the day, the sun was almost directly overhead and nose-on to the aircraft as they flew south along the beaches - hardly ideal for aircraft photography. There was little that could be done about that!

 Showing all 4 sides


There'll be more upcoming posts about the airshow and the different aircraft that flew over the 2 days.  You can read them all by clicking on the "Festa al Cel" label below.


Jayne said...

As always, your photos are awesome hon!

nzm said...

thanks Jayne!

Rob and Mandy said...

Great photos! I could only go to Mar Bella for an hour on Sunday, shame.

nzm said...

Thanks Rob - your images are wonderful too!