(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

Where? Payerne - Switzerland
When? 04-05/09/2004

The first week-end of September 2004 will long be remembered as the week-end during which another of the legendary Swiss airshows like the one in Sion 1997 took place. This year it was time for AIR04 at the Swiss Air Force base Payerne. For the 90th anniversary of the Swiss Air Force (SAF) , the 40th anniversary of the Patrouille Suisse and the 15th of the PC-7 a really impressive programm was presented to the crowd.

  I am pretty sure that every one of the 275.000 visitors will remember this event for a very long time. The show was the biggest one on the European continent this year with 67 flight demonstrations during the week-end. 6 jet display teams and numerous jet aircraft filled a flight program from 9 in the morning until 5pm, with only a short break at around midday that was just long enough to queue for a sandwich and a drink.

 Saturday's display was mainly packed with jet action during the day. The search of the SAF for a successor of the ageing F-5 Tigers attracted 3rd generation jets like the Eurofighter, Rafale, Gripen and F/A-18F Super Hornet to come the Payerne and fight with their flight demo for the favour of the crowd and the officials. And with a lot of gadgets as well, of course.

Besides this 'competitions' a rare display of the Finish AF F/A-18 could also be admired, as well as the most impressive F-15 Eagle West Coast Demo display. F-16s from the  Netherlands and Belgium participated also, as well a a French Mirage 2000 that also flew an air-air refuelling demo with a French KC-135 and a Swiss F-18 Hornet. The former Swiss military aviation was represented in the flight display with a formation of 4 Hunters and a Vampire. But the big event on Saturday was the mass formation fly-by of all the national display teams that were on place which gathered for a huge and unforgettable overfly of 40 jets. Sunday was dominated by the display teams of whom 6 could be seen during the day, let alone all the numerous jet fighter action.  The organisation of the flight program was on both days excellent with a nice mix of jets, displays teams, vintage aircraft and helicopters. And if everybody has forgotten about the traffic jams Air04 will remain a marvellous Airshow in everybodies mind!

It is a bit of a shame The Swiss do not very often organize Airshows like this one.. but when they do, they do it with Swiss precision and in style!

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Finally, after months of preparation and strong support by the Messerschmitt Stiftung and the EADS Heritage Flight I am sitting in the photo-ship on that hot August day 2003 and can listen to the radio traffic of the Messerschmitt Bf-108 D-ESBH that is lining up on the runway in front of us and which is the main target of that photoflight.

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