Photo Report : Cazaux Spotters Day 2014
Cazaux Spotters Day 2014
Photo report by Helmut Richter from the spotters day that took place on June 20, 2014, prior to the air show at Base Aérienne 120 Cazaux.
The days around the third weekend of June 2014 were cramped with events around Europe, in particular the Tiger Meet Spotters Days and the airshows at Gilze-Rijen and Karup.
The 80th anniversary airshow of the Armée de l’Air, which was also announced for that weekend with a Spotters Day on Friday, 20 June, attracted my attention very early when only few details were known. When my registration for the Spotters Day was accepted, I took the risk and fixed my travel arrangements. My expectations centred mainly around opportunities to capture aircraft from the local units, in particular the M-346s of the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s 150 Sqn and the DGA-EV (Direction Générale de l'Armement – Essai en Vol)) test unit of the Armée de l’Air. Of course, the anniversary also created hopes for a large overall domestic and foreign participation.
Eventually, it turned out that the Saturday show was reserved for Air Force staff and families only and I ended up only attending the Spotters Day on Friday.
The event was mainly attended by French and Spanish spotters with less than a handful of spotters from other countries. The day started off early in the morning with a tour of the static, which was still rather empty. However, the DGA exhibits were just pulled from their hangars into the static and there were good opportunities to capture some of their rare birds including their civil registered Fokker 100 and a Mirage 2000D with a DGA anniversary colour scheme. The Fokker 100 has a Rafale radome installed in the nose and was shown carrying MICA missiles on the wing stations and a Thales recce pod under the fuselage. The aircraft was bought from Air France Regional in 2010 and made its first flight after the conversion in December 2013.
A second highlight was the opportunity to visit a flightline with four of the brand new M-346s of the RSAF’s 150 Sqn, which replaced the units’ old A-4s. Finally, a nice range of instructional airframes was presented. The only foreign aircraft in the static were the two RAF Typhoons of 29 Sqn’s display team and a Swiss PC-21, which remained the only foreign participants of the show.
Around mid-day we were transported to a place north of the runway without photo access to an active taxiway. Initial photo conditions were extremely difficult with a combination of backlight and severe heat haze even higher above the ground. I have still included some of the pictures taken during that period, which have only become acceptable after heavy Lightroom/Photoshop treatment.
Only after 4pm, the sun turned and the heat haze became more acceptable. Fortunately, some of the more interesting arrivals and rehearsals took place after 4pm, including one of the final displays of two Mirage F-1s. A joint display by three each of 150 Sqn’s M-346s and French and Belgian Alpha Jets gave an opportunity to compare take-off performance of the two generations of training aircraft.
Overall, I left with some disappointment, because I had expected a bit more from an important anniversary event and the photo conditions could have been better as well. On the other hand, the opportunity to capture some of the DGA-EV aircraft and the new M-346s of the RSAF was quite unique. So, you may generate your own opinion looking at the images!
Report and photos by Helmut Richter ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 3 October 2014