Breitling Jet Team - American Tour - Seattle

Interview – Patrick Marchand – Breitling Jet Team

First of all thank you very much for your time, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us about your career in aviation and as a member of the Breitling Jet Team.

I began to fly gliders as a teenager, entered the French Air force when I was 17, and left after 21 years to be part of the Breitling Jet Team in 2004.We grew from 4 to 7 planes, I fly now outside left position


The L-39 is a very famous jet, tell us your opinion of the type.

The L39 is nice looking, maneuverable, two seaters which is very important for travelling with our technicians and to fly guests.
It is incredibly tough and simple to operate in that category of military jet, thus reliable.
We crossed the world flying our 8 jets with a very limited technical team and no support, we never let a plane anywhere with a failure, from Emirates, Cabo Verde, Middle East, Asia, USA, Canada.
There is no plane on the market with such a versatility.
I would say: the best plane is the plane you can afford to operate, the L 39 is definitely what we need.

I heard some stories that the team might change to the more modern L-39NG, can you confirm this?

We are in touch with Aerovodochody. For sure the L 39 NG would be a great improvement .The L39 NG development is still in progress, wait and see!

How many people are there in the team, pilots and ground crew together?

Currently we are 7 pilots, 6 ground crew, 1 admistrative. We usually hire one or two more ground crew during the airshow period.

What can you tell of the colours of the jets?

Our black, silver, yellow paint scheme has been the result of a friend designer and Breitling, and is definitely thrilling, modern and impressive.

How someone can become a member of the team?

We usually integrate pilots with a combat aircraft background. The experience caught over years in military fighters is mandatory to travel the world in formation, and cost efficient aerobatic training wise.
Nevertheless the qualities we are looking for, in addition to technical skills, are very much about social life and desire to communicate a passion.
Integration of a new pilot is a team decision, after welcoming those interested in interviews.

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The team performed in the US and in Asia in the past, how does a long travel look like? Do you fly to the continent?

US AND Asian tours were definitely once in a life adventures and challenges.
We flew to Zhuai, close to Honk Kong, crossing the whole Siberia,Mongolia and China pushed by coming winter, in 9 days and 13 stops. Fantastic adventure through wild areas, meeting people and solving daily problems. Tours around Asia brought us to Philippines, Borneo, Malaysia, Singapore Thailand, Corea Japan, China, Kazakhstan, Russia again.
Travelling with our planes is challenging, engaging, thrilling, and probably the hardest part of the job nevertheless less visible.
For the US tour, we dismantled the fleet of 9 aircraft, shipped them in containers, and reassembled them in Lakeland, Florida. Setting up this logistics, despite non flying, has been as well a tremendous challenge for us and our technicians, still only 15 persons to sort out all the problems.

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In the US, did the team met the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels? Did you shared any experiences with each other?

For sure we met often Thunderbirds and Blue Angels, and had many opportunities to share friendly moments during official events, but as well more private dinners, drinks, or just chatting. By regulation we could not fly together neither share cockpits, but we did that with Snow Birds in Canada.
That has been a fantastic experience and a trust achievement to be welcome on board a national team during a training flight.
In Asia we had opportunities to meet in the Air national teams in Malaysia (Smokey Bandit), and to share friendly moments with Russian Knights and August 1st (China).
I would say that passion we share together withdraw in a few minutes any cultural or language difference, gathering aviators spirit.

Who decides about such tours and performances?

Breitling is directing us for those major tours, and the set up of those unique challenges is put together as a true team job between the sponsor and his ambassador. The Team values we are enhancing is not an abstract marketing position, but atrue way of life, part of Breitling DNA.

And what about 2018, what can you tell us? Any airshows already booked?

2018 will be European, the journey is getting organized step by step, and will be published a bit later.

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Who decides the program you perform? Do the pilots put their ideas together?

The airshow routine is decided within the team, according to key words, quality and safety.
We first brainstorm, then fly step by step new manoeuvers at various altitudes and energy , before integrating in the full show and train it low altitude.
Depending on the result from ground, we keep it or not…

Any favourite manover from your program?

All the pilots fly some specific manoeuvers, solo, by group of 2, group of 3 or 4. We do not work as indivuduals showing up one by one, we are truly concerned by the global result of the team performance.
That being said, I am quite proud to fly the Apache Roll, emblematic of our Team, and copied all around the world.

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In 2014, at the Belgian Air Force Days, the team used flares during their program, is it still a part of it, do you still use flares?

Actually they are not flares in the military vocabulary, but only civilian fireworks. We still use them and they are very popular.

What are the reactions after your program on the ground from the audience?

Hard to answer for audience!
I hope they are positive!
We try to bring positive emotion, as a global show, working on the formation quality, symmetry rhythm, music, commentary, fire works etc…
It is not about a power demonstration, but closer to a romantic ballet.

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Personall favourite feedback after an airshow?

We had incredible reactions in Asia: we had to be evacuated from Bangkok international airport when the crowd pushed the fences to invade the ramp after the display, it has been our Rolling Stone experience!

Any personal favourite demo team from the World?

Demo teams are important by the members who share the same passion and challenging team job, dedicated to show and inspiration. Each of them is a jewel by itself, whatever kinf of show, type of aircraft, culture or language.

Is there an airshow wish list you personally would like to perform with the team?

My playlist would be the longest one, and I often say the best one will be the next one!

Thank you very much, any final words to our readers?

Breitling brought us to show all around the world, to share our common values and inspire audience.
None of us could have imagined years before we could have the opportunity to live this unique in the world experience and way of life.
Don’t renounce to your dreams, if you want them to become true you will make it.

Fly Breitling!