Air Museum Network – Connecting You with Aviation History

International Guests Enchant The Melbourne Air and Space Show

Melbourne FL – After a long winter, the sound of aircraft engines begin to fill the air across the United States. Venues begin to open their gates to air show enthusiasts. This season, Air Museum Network packed the gear and headed to sunny Florida for the Melbourne Air and Space Show which was held on April 1 and 2.

Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet

Kent Pietsch Performs In His Interstate Cadet – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

The choice of this particular event was not by chance. Early in the year, rumors and rumblings filled the aviation media outlets with news of something very special. Once the rumors were confirmed as fact, the choice of this air show was the proverbial no brainer. The French Air Force Flight Demonstration Team Patrouillle de France was coming to tour the United States. The tour commemorates the 100th anniversary of the US involvement in the Great War (World War I).The US tour was the first for the Patrouille in 30 years and the Melbourne Air and Space Show would be the debut.

Panchito Lands

Air Show Staple B-25 “Panchito” – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

The show was headlined by the United States Air Force Thunderbirds and counted on the a fantastic cast of air show performers. Like a prize fight at Madison Square Garden, Fans were treated to smaller acts like SOCOM Para-Commandos and Kent Pietsch with his Jelly Belly Interstate Cadet. Air show staples like the B-25 “Panchito” and the Geico Skytypers kept the crowd entertained in between acts. Greg Colyer took to the air in his T-33 “Ace Maker II” and showed the fans what having “The Right Stuff” is all about. On the military front, the United States Navy ensured that eardrums were ruptured with the deafening roar of the TAC Demo Team’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, while the United States Air Force’s F-35 and a Cavalier P-51D honored the past with the ever popular Heritage Flight.

Super Hornet

USN F/A-18 Superhornet Perfrming A Touch And Go – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Greg Colyer In Th T-33

Greg Colyer Shows The Right Stuff – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

As part of the festivities and in an act of true class, the French Government awarded two World War II D-Day veterans with one of France’s highest distinctions, the Legion of Honor. In the name of the President of the Republic of France, the French Consul pinned the medal and embraced the Veterans in the presence of their family, VIPs and the entire Air Show crowd.

Honored Veterans

The French Government Honor World War II D-Day Veterans – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Legion of Honor

The French Legion Of Honor Medal – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

One of the golden air show rules is to expect the unexpected. The Melbourne Air and Space Show stood steadfast to this rule. In a late addition to the lineup, organizers and the Patrouille de France unleashed the aviation equivalent of the Kraken. The French team is supported by the Airbus A400 Atlas. This medium transport aircraft is a sight unseen in this neck of the hemisphere. In what is possible the first air show performance of this type in the US, it did not disappoint. Seasoned aviation photographers could not help but wipe the tear from the eye before sporting their biggest pepsodent smile and launching into a frenzy of high fives. Remember that line from the film Jerry Maguire? No…not “Show me the money”, the other one…”you had me at Hello”? Well this air show “had me at the A400”.

Atlas

The Armee De L’Air’s Airbus A400 – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

The Canard Formation

A Pass In The Canard Formation – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Although the Thunderbirds were the headliners of the show, there is no doubt that the Patrouille de France was the main attraction. This became evident as the eight Dassault Alpha Jets paraded down the runway and the colors of the French flag Tricolore were waved by many of the French nationals in attendance.

French Pride

French Aviation Photographer Paul Marais-Hayer Shows Pride – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

A Special Wave

Patrouille De France Wave At The French VIP Tent – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Tricolore

The French….And American Colors – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

In the US, we have grown accustomed to the speed, roar and brute power of flight demonstration teams like the Thunderbirds and Blue Angles. There is nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t enjoy the spectacle? The Patrouille de France and the small nimble Alpha Jet, bring a grace and style seldom seen.  It is like going from a Broadway musical to an evening at the Ballet. some notable differences between the French Team and their US counterparts is, never during their performance does a spectator look at empty space. There is always at least one aircraft performing and in line of sight. The use of colored smoke (Red and Blue) add a certain….Je Ne Sais Quoi. This teams performance was best described by French Aviation Photographer Paul Marais Hayer as……….. “Nice and Smooth”.

The Signature Maneuver "Concord"

The Florida Weather Added To The Impressive Concord Maneuver – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Le Sherif

The Very Original Le Sherif Pass – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

To classify this event as an air show would be doing the Melbourne Air and Space Show an injustice. It was a bit more than that. It was a celebration. The festive multi national atmosphere could be summed up by the French National Motto Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). This is exactly what we needed. Organizers put together an event with an International flair. In a nutshell…..it was a much needed breath of fresh air.

Group Photo

Patrouille De France Group Photo – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Athos 2

Athos 2 And Right Wing Captain Damien Bourmaud – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Opposing Knife Edge Pass

The Patrouille De France In The Opposing Knife Edge Pass – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Close But No Cigar

The Patrouille De France Down And Low – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

Atlas

The Armee De L’Air’s Airbus A400 – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Starduster

The Trescal Starduster SA300 Warms Up The Crowd – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Vapor

The Florida Weather Adds Vapor As The F/A-18 Pulls Up – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

USAF Thunderbirds - Cloverloop Opener

The Thunderbirds Prepare For The Cloverloop – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

USAF Thunderbirds - Mirror Pass

The Classic Mirror Pass – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

USAF Thunderbirds - Diamond Pass

The Thunderbirds Roar Down From The Diamond Pass – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

USAF Thunderbirds - Enroute To The Bomb Burst

The Thunderbirds Prepare For The Bomb Burst – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

USAF Thunderbirds - Knife Edge

The Classic Knife Edge Pass – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Ace Maker II Takes Off

Ace Maker II Under The Watchful Eye Of A Geico Skytyper – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

Haritage Flight Seperation Maneuver

The Final Separation Maneuver Of The Heritage Flight – Photo by Richard J.M Souza, Zulu X-Ray Photography

 

 

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