Air Show Report : 75 Years Meiringen Air Base 2016 - Switzerland
75 Years Meiringen Air Base 2016 Switzerland
The Swiss Air Force celebrated 75 years of Meiringen Air Base in June 2016. Air show report by Harrie Kraaijeveld.
75 Jahre Militärflugplatz Meiringen
On June 17-18, 2016, the Swiss Air Force welcomed some 30,000 visitors at an air show to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the military airfield near Meiringen, located near the hamlet of Unterbach in the canton of Bern, Switzerland.
Meiringen military airfield started operations on 1 December 1941 and today is one of three fighter bases of the Swiss Air Force. The Fliegerstaffel 11 operating the F/A-18C/D Hornet is based at Meiringen Air Base. Fliegerstaffel 11 is the Swiss Tiger squadron and a full member of the NATO Tiger Association (Switzerland is not a NATO member state but has been a NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) member since 1996). Three fellow NATO Tiger members had travelled to Meiringen to join the celebration; the Belgian Air Force 31 Smaldeel with two F-16s, the German Air Force Jagdgeschwader 74 with two Eurofighters, and the French Air Force Escadron de Chasse 1/7 with two Rafales.
Besides the festivities to celebrate the anniversary, regular operational missions were also flown as a Wiederholungskurs was taking place at the same time. During the Wiederhohlungskurs, F/A-18s and F-5s fly various missions as a refresher to maintain proficiency for the reserve duty militia pilots, who usually have a civilian aviation career outside the Swiss Air Force. The reserve duty F-5E/Fs of Fliegerstaffel 8, also based at Meiringen, formed still an integral component of Swiss air doctrine and training, despite its limitations, in lieu of a replacement.
In the static show, various other types of aircraft belonging to the Swiss Air Force could be admired, as well as a mix of Swiss Army vehicles.
The air show display programme exclusively provided by the Swiss Air Force participants took place in the afternoon. The following displays were flown:
- PC-6 Porter paradrop demonstration
- PC-21 advanced trainer solo display
- Super Puma helicopter demonstration
- PC-7 Team formation display
- F/A-18 Hornet solo display
- Patrouille Suisse display team
Although not included in the image set, the Patrouille Suisse naturally presented the finale of the flying programme. This had become highly uncertain just prior to the event as the team suffered a mid-air collision a week earlier during a training flight for an airshow at Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Thankfully, the incident only saw the team losing one airframe with the pilot having ejected safely. For this reason, the display at Meiringen was flown with five aircraft instead of the normal six.
Besides the air displays, there were also several demonstrations on the ground. The airfield's fire brigade demonstrated how a pilot is rescued from a F/A-18 in case of an emergency, using the F/A-18C mock-up with serial X-5099, the airframe replica is constructed of mostly wood and serves as a dedicated training platform for fire and rescue exercises. The Swiss Army presented a spectacular demonstration with a Leopard II and Schützenpanzer 2000 (CV9030), showing off their speed and coming to an immediate emergency breaking stop, as well as deploying smoke grenades. At noon the Super Puma (Cougar) took off to provide the winners of the air baptism lottery.
Report and photos by Harrie Kraaijeveld ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 23 August 2020