The Golden Jubilee Airshow in Switzerland – Flugtage Schupfart 2018

It all started back in the 1950s, when the local section of the Aero-Club der Schweiz (AeCS) from Fricktal region was forced to leave their current Sisslerfeld airfield, giving the way for the expansion of the chemical industry.

After a long time of searching, negotiations and disputes the solution was finally found and the location of the new airfield – at the Tägertli plateau, between Schupfart and Wegenstetten – was secured. The re-location of the airfield required the investment of 1,7 million CHF and building the access road, runway, hangars and other necessary facilities. At the end of 1966 the new airfield obtained the operating license and next year, on 3rd and 4th June 1967, the official opening was celebrated, together with the 20th anniversary of the Fricktal section of the AeCS. The aviation festival at the new airfield was highlighted by the relatively recently established Patrouille Suisse jet aerobatic team, at the time flying the Hawker Hunter aircrafts.

Time does fly, and nowadays the Fricktal-Schupfart airfield reached the 50-year milestone, the golden jubilee that undoubtedly deserved a proper celebration. The initial anniversary concept was progresivelly developed into the organization of the Flugtage Schupfart, the two-days aviation event with flying and static aircraft displays that took place at the Fricktal aeroclub airfield on 30th June and 1st July 2018.

EKW (F+W) C-3605, commonly nicknamed ´Schlepp´, but also known as ´Alpine Anteater´.Hatz CB-1, the do-it-yourself biplane.Messerschmitt Bf 108 B-1 – the foreshadow of the Me 109 fighter family.

The preparations for the anniversary show started already two years earlier, including the creation of the airshow-dedicated webpage and social media profiles. The information released there by the organization team indicated that it would be an interesting event with quite intensive programme, extending the usual expectations for the aeroclub show. And indeed, after two years of efforts, the 50th anniversary was crowned with the wonderful and pleasurable aviation event with almost twenty solo flying displays, four professional aerobatic groups and many additional sideshow acts.

The programme of the anniversary event was divided into four thematic blocks: Swiss Air Force then and now, Aerobatics, Clean Energy and The Classic Birds. Especially the first block suggested this would be a great show, introducing several aircrafts formerly used by the Swiss Air Force – Dewoitine D.26, Morane-Saulnier D-3801, Hawker Hunter and many others.

The real gentleman among the Flugtage Schupfart participants – Alfred Comte AC-4 Gentleman.Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister, advanced trainer aircraft from 1930s.One of two Dewoitine D.26 participating in the Schupfart anniversary event.

The aerobatic groups are always the magnet attracting most of the visitors, no matter the kind or location of the airshow. The Flugtage Schupfart were no exception from this rule and the undisputed highlight of the event was the Saturday flying display performed by the pride of the Swiss Air Force – the Patrouille Suisse jet aerobatic team.

And almost exactly as 50 years ago, the Swiss national aerobatic team performed their spectacular show over the Tägertli plateau, this time with their Northrop F-5E Tiger II fighter jets. The group of five aircrafts stayed over the Fricktal-Schupfart airfield for twenty minutes and the beautiful open view towards the Rhine valley amazingly increased the possibility to enjoy their outstanding aerobatic performance.

Obviously, there was no possibility for the Patrouille Suisse to land at the aeroclub grass runway, but a little later few members of the aerobatic group arrived to Schupfart on board of the Pilatus PC-6 and the visitors could meet them at one of the stands.

Patrouille Suisse jet aerobatic team over Fricktal-Schupfart airfield.The Swiss Air Force aerobatic group performed the display flying in a group of five F-5E Tiger II.The jets couldn´t land at Schupfart, so ´Tiger Uno´ had to change the F-5F for the Pilatus PC-6.

Another group aerobatics was performed by the P-3 Flyers, the Swiss team flying the Pilatus P-3 trainer, the aircraft used by the Swiss Air Force between 1957 and 1994. The P-3 Flyers team started in 1996, with just two aircrafts. Currently the group is flying in the formation of five airplanes and presenting the impressive display, especially during one of its final sections that resembles the dogfight.

P-3 Flyers – classic trainers performing the great aerobatic show.

The next aerobatic formation came from France – the Patrouille REVA team, based in Colmar-Houssen (Alsace region). The group was created by the former French Air Force pilot, lieutenant-colonel Réal Weber. Thinking about continuing his aviation activity after the retirement from the Armée de l’Air and inspired by ´VariEze´ – the aircraft manufactured by Burt Rutan, the NASA aerodynamics engineer, – Weber developed his own project, ´Acroez´. Finally, the aerobatic group flying three airplanes was founded, with most of the team members being former or current French Air Force fighter pilots.

During the Flugtage Schupfart the Patrouille REVA performed an interesting and very dynamic display, showing the surprisingly amazing performance of their aircrafts. Their formation of three extraordinary looking canard airplanes in the pusher configuration was easily commanding the everyone´s attention.

La Patrouille REVA, or what the Rafale pilots are doing when they are not flying their fighters.The extraordinary silhouette of ´Acroez´ may call to mind the images from aliens´ invasion movie.

The CapTens, the pair of two Mudry CAP 10 aerobatic aircrafts, was the last (but certainly not least) aerobatic team participating in the anniversary show at Schupfart. The two members of the CapTens formation are the experienced aerobatic pilots Marianne Maire-Shaw and Adam Shaw – Marianne is French, seven times the National French Aerobatic Champion and the winner of 17 European and World Championship medals; Adam is American, aerobatic and instructor pilot.  Flying their white-blue CAP 10 airplanes, the aerobatic couple performed the attractive formation flight, together with several impressive aerobatic figures.

Mudry CAP 10 – the CapTens aerobatic team.Marianne and Adam – and their ballet in the sky.

The solo flying displays performed during the jubilee event could satisfy the expectations of any experienced aviation enthusiast. Especially that the number of the historical and rare aircrafts participating in the Flugtage Schupfart was just impressive.

Dewoitine D.26, probably the oldest participant of the airshow, opens this enumeration – this military aircraft from 1929 was introduced parallelly with the similar D.27 fighter, 66 of which were used by the Swiss Air Force. The fighter variant was withdrawn from the service in 1940 but the eleven D.26 trainers stayed in the Swiss Air Force until 1948 and after then they were still used in the aeroclubs until 1970. Currently there are two airworthy survivors of the Dewoitine trainer, both flying together as ´Patrouille Dewoitine´ team. It was the real pleasure to watch the formation display of those parasol-wing airplanes, the display that allowed the airshow spectators to travel in time, back to the 1930s.

Almost like in the 1930s… – Dewoitine D.26.A pure classic in the air – the parasol-wing airplane with the open cockpit and the radial engine.

Morane-Saulnier MS.406, precisely the Swiss D-3801 variant, was unquestionably another highlight of the show. This French fighter aircraft was introduced in 1938, shortly before the World War II and was operationally used primarily by the French, Finnish and Swiss air forces, although MS.406 is most commonly directly associated with the defence of France in 1940. Switzerland bought the license for MS.406 in 1938 and afterward developed its own variants that included several local modifications and improvements, those works were also continued after the 1940 armistice. There were almost 300 aircrafts produced in Switzerland and used by the Swiss Air Force until 1948 when they were replaced by P-51Ds.

Even though there were totally more than one thousand MS.406s of all variants produced, only three aircrafts survived, all three being the Swiss D-3801 development – among them there is just the only one airworthy airplane, the Morane-Saulnier D-3801 no. 194 that was one of the Flugtage Schupfart participants. The aircraft is currently painted in the Swiss red and white stripes of ´neutrality marking´ adopted by the Swiss Air Force in 1944.

Morane-Saulnier D-3801 was the most interesting warbird of the Flugtage Schupfart airshow.

The classic design of the late 1930s and the futuristic formation – D-3801 and Patrouille REVA.

The Cold War era in the Swiss Air Force was represented by the Hawker Hunter T Mk.68, owned by the Swiss Hunter Team. Approximately 150 Hunters were in the Swiss service between 1954 and 1994, both new and second-hand, and were also the aircraft previously flown by the Patrouille Suisse. The Hunter display was the excellent connection between the World War II years and the present, recalling the visitors the early jets era. It was a great and long solo display, the Hunter engine roared over the Schupfart airfield for twenty minutes, creating the perfect opportunity to enjoy the streamlined shape of the British-made jet. In the Swiss Air Force, the Hawker Hunters were replaced by the Northrop F-5 Tiger II and the same sequence followed during the airshow – the next flying display after the Hunter solo was the Patrouille Suisse aerobatic show (sadly, the Patrouille Suisse visited Schupfart only on Saturday).

Swiss Hunter Team – Hawker Hunter T Mk.68.

The long-lasting Hunter display offered the perfect opportunity to enjoy the look and sound of this once popular fighter jet, serving with 22 air forces around the world.

Several other aircrafts formerly used by the Swiss Air Forces could also be seen during the 50th anniversary of the Fricktal-Schupfart airfield, among them Messerschmitt Bf 108 Taifun, C-3605, Stinson L-5 Sentinel, Fieseler Fi 156 Storch, Bücker Bü 133 Jungmeister, Comte AC-4 Gentleman and P-51D Mustang. Almost all of them were presented in the various types of the Swiss markings, except the P-51D. That silver Mustang participating in the airshow was manufactured in 1945 and shipped to Italy but wasn´t used operationally. It returned to Europe in 1988, bought for the private collection and then changed several paintings (and holders) over the years. The current Mustang owner chosen the silver look for his warbird and the P-51 was painted as WD-U ´See me later´, the aircraft originally flown by 1Lt. Wilbur Eaton from 4th Fighter Group (´Debden Eagles´).

Another star of the Flugtage Schupfart – ´See me later´ P-51D Mustang.

Fieseler Fi 156C-1 Storch – over 80 years of the amazing STOL performance.

Beautiful and still looking young – Bf 108 during the flying display.

Yakovlev Yak-52 trainer taxiing in front of the spectators.

The collection of the participating airplanes included further Pilatus PC-7, North American T-6, Pitts S1S, Yakovlev Yak-52, Extra 300 SC and a few other aircrafts. Among those flying displays the Yak-52 solo is important to point for the extraordinary dynamic and breath-taking show and Pitts S1S aerobatic display with the exhilarating and amusing commentary directly from the cockpit.

According to the local rules the aircraft noise had to be limited in the early afternoon and this was the time for the displays from the ´Clean Energy´ block – gliders, electric-powered airplanes and the RC models. Firstly, the world renowned Skydance Airshow Team from Germany should be mentioned here – Andrea and Lars Lehmann with their Swift S-1 glider. Andrea is a talented glider pilot and she already took part in more than 50 national and international glider championships, three times being the best woman of the championships.

Lars Lehmann sends Andrea into the air – Skydance Airshow Team.

Two Lange Antares gliders followed, those aircrafts are equipped with the electric motor making them a self-launcher and allowing the approximately 3000m climb. Thereafter the spectators could see the pair of another Swift S-1 gliders, but this time they were the RC models presented by Andi and Tim Schaerer from Switzerland. During their display it was easy to forget that the aircrafts performing the formation aerobatic flight were just models, not the real, full scale gliders. The Schaerers´ team is a part of the ´Red Bull Air Force´ project.

The Schaerers´ team and their Swift S-1 model gliders.

The closing flying display of the Flugtage Schupfart was performed by the Classic Formation – the Douglas DC-3 airliner followed by three Beechcrafts Model 18. It´s difficult to imagine the better choice to conclude both wonderful days of the aviation festival in Schupfart. The sound of eight radial engines echoed over the Rhine valley for the long time, still staying with the spectators while the formation of four elegant classic airplanes was disappearing over the horizon.

The amazing airshow-closing display by the Classic Formation group.

Dignified silhouette of the classic airliner – Douglas DC-3.

Several of the previously mentioned aircrafts were also available at the static display, the visitors could see the aerobatic specials and some of the Swiss warbirds, including Bf 108, D-3801 or C-3605. Due to the limited space and the grass runway of the aeroclub airfield, the aerobatic groups, jets and some of the other participating airplanes were not based at Schupfart and performed the displays flying from their home airfields.

Additionally, in the airfield hangars there was a possibility to see the ´Pioneers tell the tales´ exhibition of aviation artefacts; the Nieuport 23 C-1 fighter airplane from the World War I era, currently being meticulously restored by the Nieuport Memorial Flyers and Bleriot XI replica.

´Pioniere erzählen´ hangar exhibition – Bleriot XI.

Morane-Saulnier D-3801 taxiing to the parking position at the static display.

´Patrouille Dewoitine´ flying display.

This hangar exhibition was supported by several promotional and merchandise stands located around and among them the most visible (and most visited) was the SAAB company tent, promoting the Gripen fighter. The purchase of the next generation fighter jet for the Swiss Air Force is still a subject of the national debate and there is a high possibility that Gripen would be the preferred choice.

The airshow visitors could also visit the SPHAIR / Swiss Air Force stand, Rega – Swiss air rescue ehxibition with the playground for children and rescue helicopter at the static display or Super Constellation Flyers Association information point with the gift shop.

The cancellations from the previously announced programme are very common for the airshows focused on the warbirds and other historical airplanes and regrettably there were some in Schupfart too – both Hawker Sea Fury and De Havilland Vampire had to be cancelled due to the technical reasons. Fortunately, the airshow programme was so extensive that those cancellations couldn´t adversely affect the overall impression from the show and didn´t spoil the mood.

Last checks before the take-off  – Dewoitine D.26.

The Swiss classic – EKW (F+W) C-3605 ´Schlepp´.

Approximately 15,000 people came to Schupfart during that sunny and hot weekend to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the airfield, including the visitors from Germany, France, UK or Poland. There is no doubt they weren´t disappointed with this perfectly organized event and the variety of flying displays. The aeroclub airshows usually have their special ambience, quite different from the huge, commercial airshow – and the Flugtage Schupfart followed this rule. The friendly and warm atmosphere of this aviation festival could surely serve as the model for other aviation events.

And now, in conclusion, a few additional photos from the Flugtage Schupfart airshow:

Messerschmitt Bf 108 B-1 Taifun during the flying performance…

…and a few moments later, at the static display.

Eurocopter EC-145 (Swiss Air-Rescue) is arriving to Schupfart.

Extra EA-330/SC takes off for the aerobatic display.

The Patrouille REVA spectacular formation break.

´Patrouille Dewoitine´.

Alfred Comte AC-4 Gentleman.

Yakovlev Yak-52.

Morane-Saulnier D-3801.

Hawker Hunter T Mk.68.

North American P-51D Mustang.

The gate guard at Fricktal-Schupfart airfield – De Havilland DH. 112 Mk.1 R Venom.