Interview – Pilot of Rafale Solo Display

Tell us a bit of the Rafale Solo Display, it’s history.

1st; Dassault had the display mission at the beginning and the 1st display pilot was M. Mitaux-Maurouard Guy and their last was M. Duchateau Philippe test pilot. And the French Air Force (FAF) had to display the Mirage 2000 until 2008. In 2009, Dassault and FAF decide to only show the Rafale for any air presentation, and the FAF took this mission.

The 1st Airmen Solo display pilot was Cpt RUET « Rut » Cédric for 2 years Seasons 2009 – 2010
The 2nd Rafale Solo Display Pilot was Cpt BROCARD « Michael » Michael for seasons 2011 – 2012
The 3rd Rafale Solo Display Pilot was Cpt PLANCHE « Tao » Benoit for seasons 2013 – 2014 – 2015
And I am the 4th Rafale Solo Display Pilot Cpt MARTINEZ « Marty » Jean-Guillaume for seasons 2016 – 2017

The cycle is 2 years as Display Pilot and 2 years as Coach So I will be the Coach for 2 years of the designated pilot for years 2018 – 2019COPYRIGHT © Armée de l’air

How many people are there in the team?

In our Team: For an Airshow, we are 9 persons… 2 pilots and 7 engineers We deploy 2 Rafale , The main and the spare aircraft The leader is the Coach with all his experience : Tao is in charge to prepare and dialogue the different organisation, and give some counsels to the pilot The Pilot is in charge to prepare the flight and have to be ready to perform the best display as possible

1 officer engineer
3 NCO leader

then 5 NCO specialists per systems
– Engines
– Armement (Ejection seats and smokes)
– Cell (Frame, hydraulic, air cooling systems…)
– Informations and avionics
– prepare and refuel the Rafale

So we have a team with 32 persons minimumCOPYRIGHT © Armée de l’air

At the moment, you are the only Solo Display pilot flying the Rafale around the world. Tell us a bit of the type, is the Rafale a good jet for demo?

The Rafale is a really fantastic fighter. It is really agile, with enough power to perform dynamic display. It can change directions really fast. We have to support -3g to +10,5g during the display. We try to show all the possibilities of our jet. We fly between 100kts to M0.95 (640kts). To perform High Show we only need 3500ft. My key point is 3000ft to decide to finish a loop. But during display, people can only see the performance of the jet… but the main power of our aircraft is the avionics and weapon system.

Did your season for 2017 already started?

My 2107 season start with AEROINDIA (India) in February, then LIMA Langkawi (Malaysia), then one display in USA at Langley the 21st April… And my summer season will star with an airshow in France at Bordeaux mid may. Then each week-ends, we will be out of our home base.

Who plans the Solo Display program?

1st, the display pilot imagine the maneuvers. He draw on paper the different angle and basic aerobatics figures. Then we discuss with the coach to improve the sequence. We cut the series in different part to fly each part several times. We study if we have enough the energy to continue with the other part or if we have to modify the 1st… We have 3 different safety step with 4 stars general who give the clearance to continue.

1: it’s a « paper » briefing… to explain our project.
2: it’s a flying presentation with a briefing to explain the difference between 1 step and step 2
3: it’s a validation flight. After the General approval, we are not allowed to change the display. We have a High and a Low (flat) show.

Does the Rafale Solo Display jet will have a special painting for 2017?

Yes.COPYRIGHT © Armée de l’air
COPYRIGHT © Armée de l’air

I checked the internet and I saw some photos that the Rafale Solo Display performs together with the Patrouille de France. You guys are in regural contact?

Yes. during the season, we often cross the Patrouille De France .

When you are not the pilot of the Rafale Solo Display, what do you do in the Armée de l’air? Lets say, how a week looks like for you.

With Tao, we are instructors in OCU (Operational Conversion Unit) 3/4 Aquitaine in Saint Dizier AFB. So our week looks like that

Thursday : Instructor and prepare the WE meeting.
Friday: We deploy to the closest airfield of the Airshow
Saturday and Sunday: the stay on the airshow location.
Monday; we return to our Homebase
Tuesday: is free
Wednesday: that depend of our instructor planning. We work or we stay home for rest.

In some ways, you are the ambassador of the Armée de l’air. You feel that during your performances and/or outside of France?

Yes. We have to represent the capacity of our country with a full French made fighter. We are the vector of French know-how of our Dassault aviation compagnie.

Any favourite moment from your Solo Display career? A good feedback?

Yes; Our team won the Best Solo Jet Display at Fairford RIAT 2016 Trophy Paul Bowen. It’s a great pleasure because there was F22 / F35 / Typhoon / F16 / F18 / Gripen… and that was a beautiful accomplishment of our work.

Any favourite Solo Display in Europe or around the world you like?

My favorite was in Malaysia… because the landscape was fantastic. And for the season … I wait Sion in Switzerland… in a valley that will be very impressive.

Who decides which airshows, air meet the Rafale Solo performs? (question identique avant)

The French Air Force Headquarter deicide.

If one day, someone would tell you, you can choose any airshow around the World to perform, which one would it be?

Maybe OshKosh in USA to show to American people how we are able to do in France and because there is a lot of passionate person.

Any favourite jet/plane besides the Rafale you like?

The Spitfire

Thank you! Any final words to our readers?

Take time to watch the Rafale Solo Display… It’s an amazing fighter.