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Patrouille de France wows Sun ’n Fun crowdPatrouille de France wows Sun ’n Fun crowd

The Sun 'n Fun International Fly-In and Expo hosted the Patrouille de France, the French national jet demonstration team, on April 4 as the team made one of its final performances in its first U.S. tour since 1986.

  • The Patrouille de France, the French national jet team, performs at Sun 'n Fun 2017. Photos by Mike Collins.

Flying nine Alpha Jets—advanced trainer and light attack jets, wearing new paint applied especially for the U.S. tour—the team presented an energetic 25-minute performance to open Tuesday’s airshow, impressing a somewhat light opening-day crowd likely diminished by weather stretching across north Florida and slowing aircraft arrivals. Streaming red, blue, and white smoke that lingered despite a stiff breeze, the Alpha Jets flew in formations of eight, four, and two aircraft, with some solo maneuvers for good measure.

The team is supported by a large Airbus A400M airlifter, a four-engine turboprop cargo aircraft, which did not participate in Tuesday’s performance.

Photographers train their lenses on the Patrouille de France as the French national jet team flies its only performance at Sun 'n Fun 2017.

The Patrouille de France has not performed in the United States since 1986, when it flew over New York City and then performed over Coney Island. It commemorated the Battle of Yorktown by flying over Yorktown Battlefield Monument in Yorktown, Virginia, in 2009. The Sun 'n Fun performance, honoring French and U.S. history, was part of a tour honoring the 100th anniversary of America’s April 6, 1917, entry into World War I.

The team left Sun 'n Fun for scheduled performances at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. When the U.S. tour concludes, the team will return to Salon Air Force Base in France.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: Jet, Sun n Fun

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