Meeting du Centenaire

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The Meeting du Centenaire – "Meeting of the Centennial" – was announced as a big celebration of the first airshow held at Reims in August 1909, celebrated at the location that is today the airbase BA112 of the French Air Force. Additionally to this reason it was also the last meeting at this airbase which is due to close in 2011.

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Where? Reims, BA112 - France
When?
27-28/07/2009

MeetingMany display teams have been invited to the show additionally to the French regulars Patrouille de France and the civil Breitling Jet Team: Red Arrows, Patrulla Aguilla, Royal Jordanian Falcons or the Asas de Portugal.
In addition to these modern teams many aircraft from all eras were invited to attend the show. Unfortunately they flew only in the early morning hours (= only half an hour after the opening of the gates...) and on Saturday morning even in dull weather conditions. Therefore many spectators missed these fabulous aircraft that still transfer the spirit of flying of the past. Especially the Blériot monoplane is always an amazing sight in the air, but also the Noratlas, the only remaining flying example worldwide, is an amazing sight with its nice display routine. But, due to the early start, both of these acts were only seen from the far distance when I was about to enter airfield.

 

two of the Display Teams: Patrulla Aguilla & Breitling Jet Team

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TailsUnfortunately the attendance of French Air Force (FAF) aircraft, especially the venerable Mirage F1s, which are now all based at Reims, was also quite low – or my expectations were too high, I do not know...?! The F1s did only one single recce pass as a two-ship on Saturday with no flying activity at all on Sunday. Two Mirage 2000 took of for a fly-by with a KC-135F tanker and did a fly-by afterwards. Among the FAF only the Rafale stood out at the end of the afternoon with a splendid solo display routine and this aircraft is surely to become a highlight of the airshows in the future.

 

Armée De l'Air flying: KC-135F & Mirage 2000

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Mirage 2000 fly-bys

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Mirage F1

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Foreign aircraft participating were the F-16 display teams from the Netherlands and Belgium - both arriving on Saturday midday directly from the event held at Zeltweg and flew later in the afternoon.

Swedish Gripen

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Dutch F-16

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Belgian F-16

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French Alpha Jet & Fouga Magister

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some more flying: Morane, PAF Alpha Jef, USAFE KC-135

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F1bThe static display offered a great variety of aircraft and was joy to see, even if the conditions for photography were not always that good.
The highlights were for sure the three special coloured Mirages, one of them, the Mirage 2000C of E.C. 2/12 "Picardie" just being finished two days before the show. Unfortunately this was due to the disbandment of the Squadron, the same reason why an F1CR was literally wearing black.

 

 

Mirage F1CR "Normandie-Niemen farewell"

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Mirage 2000C "E.C. 2/12 Picardie"

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Mirage F1B "Alsace" & Portuguese Alpha Jet

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OldThe display teams were lined up all along the taxiway and the long row made a most impressive sight. At the other end of the airfield the historic aircraft were parked and some oldtimer driving around and actors in ancient costumes gave an impression of what it might have looked like some decades ago.
In between the modern jets were parked, giving some good comparisons for example between the French Rafale, Swedish Gripen and an Italian Eurofighter. A German Tornado, American F-15E as well as several jets of the FAF rounded up the multifaceted line-up.

 

ancient Aircraft

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Mirage F1 & Mirage III

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different versions of the Mirage 2000

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more AdlA: C-160 Transall, Rafale, ALpha Jet & a Venom

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Italian Eurofighters, British Hawk, Belgian Alpha Jet

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Swedish Gripen, USAFE F-15E, German Tornado, Dutch F-16

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Expectations for the show were given the importance of the celebrations, but unfortunately the flying could not meet those, at least not in the eyes of the regular airshow visitors. Adding to this a second fence towards the runway made good photos impossible and demotivated the serious photographers.
However three stunning French special schemes in the static display made up for this, but nonetheless I skipped the second day at the show against a lazy Sunday back at home...

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