Frank Versteegh

aviator - keyword speaker

Flying Le Bourget

It was in the early 90’s that I flew the prestigious French Le Bourget “Salon”.
With a group of selected aerobatic pilots “Voltigeurs” as they call it in Froggy country we flew the Breitling World cup of aerobatics.
Flying a display at Le Bourget was challenging. One of the challenges was the very small piece of airspace available for this show. Le Bourget is not only surrounded by a lot of French but also covered by a lot of layers of airspace.
In order to make sure pilots would not cross deadlines and bust airspace, the box was protected by military tracking devices.
The briefings were quite special. Not only because of all the test pilots, astronauts and cosmonauts attending but also because of the display director Monsieur Martin.
After the “good morning gentlemen” he always started with one or a few video’s of the day before. (Every single display was filmed from more than one angle).
If you were in that video it meant BAD NEWS!
Or you have been too low, or you busted a deadline of you flew in a way Monsieur Martin did not like.
I will never forget a video of a Russian four engine airliner flown by the test pilot crew. Straight after V1, (Rotating speed where you lift of the nose wheel in order to go airborne) the test pilot started to turn left and the wingtip of the airliner was less than 100 cm from the ground.
A compressed laugh of the majority of the other pilots in the briefing room was noticeable.
Monsieur Martin asked the captain of the Russian airliner if he had something to say.
He replied in broken English : “Yes Mister Martin I could not underzstand zee tower clearly”.
The respond of Monsieur Martin was epic.
“In that case I give you the full day to exercise your English because you will not fly today!”
Imagine the setting, one of the biggest tradeshows on earth where companies invite customers and potential customers, and your company may not display their latest design.
Monsieur Martin was a Master in explaining the display pilots community how this game is played. A great guy! A true professional!

A short Dutch perspective?
Twenty five years after Le Bourget Police officers laying on their back in the grass in order to check the display-line and Dutch CAA still attends airshows with their height measuring binoculars. Both having not a single clue where they are looking at! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Luchtvaart politie

Share this blog: