After a rather long dry spell, airshows around Central Europe started to resume around August. Luckily, amongst them has also been the traditional „Fete Aerienne“ at La Ferté-Alais, which is usually being celebrated during the Pentecost week-end. In 2020 the event was postponed to October, but just to be cancelled prior to that…
Where? La Ferté-Alais, Aerodrome de Cerny, Paris region, France
Then another cancellation at the beginning of this year for the traditional Pentecost week-end, but finally the week-end of 28/29 August turned out to be a good choice.
August still being the major holiday season around France means a rather quiet time for the Paris region and its suburbs. This in combination with a still vague situation all around the pandemic might have been the reason for a rather low number of spectators of the La Ferté-Alais airshow in its 48th addition. 15.000 people attended on both days, and tickets were available on pre-sale only.
Obviously, Amicale Jean-Baptiste Salis’ president Cyrille Valente would have liked to welcome more visitors as there were no limitations imposed by the authorities: „The show is an important factor for the AJBS. For the publicity and of course also for the revenue of it. But nevertheless, we are very happy that we can celebrate our Fete Aérienne again.“
Aviation celebration despite pandemic restrictions
But after passing the entry gate, where entry ticket and COVID-certificates were being scanned, being at the Cerny aerodrome at the end of August felt not different from there in Spring.
Obviously masks were recommend to be worn all over the airfield, which included walking through the static display area in the morning, which was not charged extra this year.
AJBS and the Aeroclub de France
This year’s celebration was notably held together with the Aeroclub de France, that presented a formation flight of the Patrouille Tranchant’s Fouga Magisters, four aerobatic aircraft and a Beechcraft Bonanza.
Warbird Action from all eras
The first aerial battles of World War I war shown by some of the French based aircraft, but the high highlight turned out to be the “Pterodactyl Flight” from the Czech Republic. Using scale reproductions and quite a lot of pyrotechnique effects, the team set up an impressive show of an aerial battle that could have happened in WW I.
For the fans of more powerful warbird, a highlight has been the Douglas AD-4N Skyraider (F-AZHK), which very recently received a new paint scheme and now represents an USAF „Sandy“ of the 1st ACS/SOS USAF that operated from Bien Hoa. Obviously it was well put into scene during the Vietnam scenario with the OV-10D Bronco and a pair of T-28s. Also the Supermarine Spitfire PR Mk.XIX (F-AZJS – PS890) made a welcome return the the French airshow scene after its take-off accident at Villette-Longuyon in June 2017.
Regular visitors of France’s premier airshow have been missing the P-51D Mustang „Nooky Booky“ after its move the Salzburg‘s Flying Bulls earlier this year, but the traditional „Tora“ showpiece involved eleven North American Texans of all kinds. This high number has not been seen for years, and was a sight to behold as they came in for their traditional airfield attack.
Show of force by the French military
With a slight lack of vintage aviation aircraft, the French Armed Forces came in strength. Modern displays were the Rafale solo display, A400M, Atlantique, Falcon 50 and the Patrouille de France, showcasing the Petit Prince” of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry on their tails in this year. Alas, this airshow at La Ferté-Alais might have been the last chance to see an Aeronavale Alouette during a small flying display, and also the C-160D Transall touching down on the grass strip in front of the crowd.
So after a very long pause, this „Aviation Party“ felt just right as in the years before. It offered just the right mixture to get used to airshows again. The anticipation for the 49th edition, again scheduled for the traditional Pentecost week-end in 2022, is high!