Patrouille de France United States Arrival
During the first part of the 2017 North American Airshow Season, the Patrouille de France will be touring the United States and Canada as part of a special visit by the acclaimed French Air Force military demonstration team. This visit to the United States coincides with the 100th anniversary of the United States' entry in World War I, and symbolizes France's appreciation for the United States' involvement to help end the war and freed France from German occupation. This was the team's first United States tour since 1986, although the Patrouille de France did make a single scheduled United States flyover in 2009.
The team's trip to the United States from France took a route that tested the limits of the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jets that the team flies. Because the Alpha Jet has a relatively short range and the inability to refuel in flight, the Patrouille de France could not fly from France to the United States in one shot. Multiple stops in England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, and two in eastern Canada were needed so that the pilots could rest and the jets could refuel. External tanks were required for the longer overwater segments as well as the assistance of a French Navy Falcon 50 in the event an aircraft would need to be ditched. The ten jets were also accompanied by a French Air Force Airbus A400M Atlas transport which carried the support members as well as additional items the team would need on their United States Tour.
Seven of the Alpha Jets made their trip from 3 Wing Bagotville to the Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, New York on March 23, 2017, completing their long trek across the Atlantic Ocean. As stated above, ten Alpha Jets came across into Canada, but three aircraft stayed behind in Quebec due to mechanical issues, most likely stemming from the extreme cold temperatures and conditions of the Canadian winter. While it was just the start of spring, the outside air temperature at the Stewart International Airport did not reflect that at all; the temperature did not climb above 34º during the entire visit by Zinger Aviation Media. Massive piles of snow from the recent winter storm were still evident, as the region received upwards of two and a half feet of snow about a week before this event. The remaining Alpha Jets and the Atlas had arrived late that night; the Atlas was noted having to land at Newark Liberty International Airport so that the crew could clear United States Customs.
Being the official military aerobatic team representing the French Air Force, the Patrouille de France's Alpha Jets are painted in red, white, and blue, and the wings and tail are painted with the pattern of the flag of the French Republic. For their United States Tour, the Patrouille de France's Alpha Jets feature a special tail to commemorate the tour and each aircraft also has painted on the right side of the fuselage one of the aces of the Aéronautique Militaire during World War I; believe it or not more than 180 pilots were deemed flying aces as they scored at least five air-to-air victories in combat.
Limited photographic opportunities of the jets in the air were provided as the seven jets had arrived much quicker than was anticipated. The arrival event was coordinated through the New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing and their Public Affairs Office, who were absolutely gracious in hosting the contingent of media and photographers that braved the bitter cold to greet the Patrouille de France. Zinger Aviation Media wants to thank the entire Public Affairs Office of the 105th Airlift Wing for allowing this opportunity as well as Commandant Christophe DuBois for being gracious in allowing photographers to get an up close look at the Alpha Jets as well as describing some of the special paint and decals the team is wearing for their United States Tour.
Apologies for the large copyrights in each photo - this is necessary in this day and age where photos are widely stolen and passed along as if they are one's own.