Saturday, 17 September 2016

I’m Back

Patrouille de France in action
After taking a holiday from blogging over the summer, I’m back in the saddle again. To celebrate, Mâcon organised a fly past from La Patrouille de France (the French equivalent of the Red Arrows) over the Saône on Saturday morning. The elite of the French air force in their fighter jets with smoke trails of red, white and blue over the river - just for me!

They must have known that when I was young I wanted to be a fighter pilot, I even managed to get an introductory interview with the RAF by not giving my Christian names and not saying I had an O’ level in needlework. They were surprised when a five foot nothing female turned up and rather patronisingly told me girls can’t do that sort of thing – born too soon - they do it nowadays.

The noise of the planes, the roar of the engines, the adrenalin rush as those machine race over your head, just what any red-blooded engineer wants. The closest I have got to that is watching Top Gun with quadraphonic sound and an enormous screen at the IMAX in Rotterdam, but that is a few years ago now.

So yes, of course I would be delighted to be the guest of honour, thank you!

James Bond comes in to land in his Republic Seabee in Mâcon
The fly past was due at 10.30 and when Cees confirmed the time with the organisers, he was told that it was set for 10.30 but it might be 11.00 or even 11.30 ummm….. Let’s get this straight, the Patrouille de France is manned by the crème de la crème of French fighter pilots who can be scrambled at a moment’s notice and are less than 20 minutes flying time from any point on the French mainland, how the heck can they be an hour late?? Ah well c’est La France, say no more.

Back to Saturday morning. Being genetically and psychologically Northern Europeans we turned up on time, ie we were in situ at just gone 10 o’clock. I know, I know I can’t help it, but at least I was dressed warmly for the hour and half wait - I even had long trousers and socks on - now that is a first!

Tom Cruise on his way for my fly past
While we waited, we were treated to a display of amphibious aircraft taking off and landing. One of the planes was a Republic Seabee which had actually been in a James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, with Roger Moore. That was in the days when James Bond was real and was not one of those modern alternatives – am I showing my age?

So there we were, on the first cold day since mid July and just before the fly past was due to be late, an announcement came over the tannoy, the cloud cover was too low to fly, they weren’t coming. There went my first blog of the autumn!

Not to be defeated I found a nice photo from the Internet to show you what my fly past would have looked like had it been a nice day. I think I’ll stick with Top Gun next time, at least it starts when I want it to and I can watch it in the warm!

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