Interview – Leader of Patrouille Sparflex

Thank You very much for your time. Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us you aviation background as well.

My name is Aymeric de Valence, I am the leader of the Sparflex Jet team. I have been involved in aviation since I was a kid, my dad was an airline pilot for Air France and taught me how to fly at age 10. I then flew gliders as a teenager and later joined the french navy as a naval aviator. I flew fighters on the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle for almost 20 years before I retired and joined Sparflex. Michel Soutiran is the owner of the airplanes and founder of Sparflex. He flies the second L39 in formation with me. He started flying at age 15 and has always flown ever since for pleasure but essentially to travel for his business. He was the first pilot to own a L39 in France back in 1999.

I have accidentally found about the Patrouille Sparflex, never heard it before. Am I saying it right, does the team named Patrouille Sparflex? Tell us the history please.

Michel Soutiran is the CEO of Sparflex, a large packaging company based in France. But he is also passionate of flying, he bought a L39 in 1999 to travel fast and then realized that he could fly aerobatics with it. In 2014, he created the patrouille Sparflex with a good friend François Forget, former french air force pilot.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

How many people are there in the team?

They are 4 people in the team:

Aymeric de Valence as leader
Michel Soutiran as wingman
François Forget as coach
Stéphane Olivier as head mechanic

Where does the team perform usually?

We train in Reims, France (east of Paris) where we are based. We perform at multiple airshows in Europe.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

The L-39 you fly, is well very well known, for aerobatics maneuvers. Do you like the jet? What is your personall opinion of the type?

It is a great jet to fly, very agile and performing. The airplane is robust and secure, it is well adapted for airshow display and formation flying.

Tell me about the painting of the jets. Why the dark blue colour?

Michel Soutiran decided to paint the airplane in blue with the name of Sparflex. It is the color and emblem of the company that he created in 1984 with his wife Jocelyne.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

Where can people see the team in 2017?

Airshow season is over but come see us in Reims, we will take you flying! We created a non-profit organization called Fly&Fun to share our activities with other members. Anybody can join and fly the L39’s!

How often do you train?

During airshow season we train 3 times a week for the display (15 minutes demo). When we don’t train, we still fly the L39 very regularly to travel, give backseat rides and instruct other pilots.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

How do you put the program together? Is it a team work?

It is a team work with the coach. We suggest new maneuvers, we discuss them all together. After that we try them with our coach in the backseat who validate the final demo

Are you in connection with the French demo/solo teams?

We are good friend with all other french demo teams, we are well connected and meet them on airshows but also at the annual french airshow symposium in Lyon (France Spectacle Aérien: http://france-spectacle-aerien.com)

What are the reactions from the public? Any favourite feedback during the years?

The public is always great and friendly every where we go. The best souvenir is seing my kids waving at me when exiting the airplane at a local sunset airshow in Epernay, France in July.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

If one day you could choose any airshow to participate in Europe, which one would it be?

One of the best airshow in Europe takes place in Roanne close to Lyon in France. They organise an airshow every 2 years, it became very popular for the last 40 years because they are very professional and friendly.COPYRIGHT © Patrouille Sparflex

Is there a demo team in Europe you personally like?

The Frecce Tricolori have my respect. They perform a very impressive display with 9 jets and a solo, their show is unique and performed with very superior skills.

Thank you very much your time. Any final words to our readers?

I will end with my favorite quote: “Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”

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