4 November 2010

Patrulla Águila - the Jet Aerobatic Team of Spain's Air Force

Closing this year's Festa al Cel was Patrulla Águila (Eagle Patrol) which is the Spanish Air Force's jet precision team.

I was lucky enough to catch their practice run on the Friday before the airshow as well as their official performance, so the weather variations in my images reflect the 2 days.

Flying CASA C-101 Aviojets, the team operates from the San Javier Airbase in Spain's Murcia region.  They are the only team in the world to use yellow smoke which is one of the two national colours of Spain; the other being red.

Their display was extremely competent with tight formations and manoeuvres, and they were one of the few displays that flew close enough to the beach to make it more exciting.

This year, the team has a Catalan leader from Barcelona - Comandante José María "Pep" Alonso - and this made it all the more special for the crowd because a local boy was in charge!

The team is also known for its formation take-off and landing displays which quite often aren't thought about in the schematics.  For shows based at airfields, this means that Patrulla Águila gives a comprehensive display from the moment that the pilots march onto the airfield to get into their planes until the time that they march out after the display.

This year is the team's 21st year of operation in which time it has grown from a formation of 5 aircraft, then 6, and finally to its present configuration of 7.  Over 16,000 flight hours have been logged in this time.

As well as flying as part of a lot of Spain's national celebrations, Patrulla Águila has also flown demonstrations in countries such as Finland, Israel, Portugal and Turkey and, since 2003, there are annual tours to events in America and Canada.

For more posts on the Barcelona Airshow, click on the Label "Festa al Cel" below.


Mike Meyer said...

Hey Michele, I'm not usually a B&W kinda guy unless your name is Ansel but, I love the shot of the jets in B&W. I guess because it is so different. Very nice. What kinda lens were you using and how close were you? You've got some incredible shots.
Mike Meyer

nzm said...

Thanks Mike! Yes, the B&W ones do stand out - especially where there's nice contrast in the sky. To be honest, some of the images in colour simply looked too blah, so turning them into B&W was a good fix in some instances.

I shoot with a Canon 5D MkII and I only have a 24-105 and a 70-200 zooms for now. These were shot with the 70-200, and are a combination of good proximity to the aircraft as they flew by, or big crops! Even the biggest crops yielded acceptable 16"x20" prints when Genuine Fractals was applied, but I would much rather invest in a longer lens for next time!