20 October 2021 – Axalp Ebenfluh
And so, after 2008 (service which) and the 2017 (and which), the Axalp of 2021, the 3rd for AviaSpotter.it.
That of the 2019 had been blown due to adverse weather conditions (you can find the photos taken in Meiringen which) and last year it is useless to tell you the reason that had prevented the climb to the polygon.
This year the tradition has resumed and I have not missed the opportunity.
The departure is set for 05:00 and the wheels move right on time. The asphalt runs smoothly under the wheels and today we decide to take the Susten Pass to reach our destination. The weather today is perfect but the snow has already peeped out 2224 meters high. Downhill towards Meiringen we find a little’ of fog but everything is within the norm: it will soon dissolve.
Upon our arrival, we park without problems in the spaces indicated and prepared and we immediately go to the airport entrance, not without first shooting the famous Meiringen cows-spotters
As every year, the Swiss Air Forces make Super Puma and Cougar helicopters available to Guests and Media for the ascension to the Axalp shooting range and again this year I will have the option not to go up on foot. The identification procedures are carried out very efficiently and in a very short time we find ourselves inside the base waiting to attend the briefing.
Meanwhile, the helicopters begin to bring the first guests up and I take the opportunity to take the first photos. They also take off 4 Hornet for the morning sortie and I don't miss them.
All 11:50 precise briefing begins Major General Peter “Pablo” Merz who from 1 July 2021 replaced Major General Bernhard "Benü" Müller as Commander of the Swiss Air Force. We talk about the international situation, of current and future threats and future acquisitions decided by the Swiss government to ensure that the borders and the population are safe. The future defenders will be called Patriot and Lightning II: fully meet the Swiss requirements regarding performance and economy and in the coming years we will see them wearing the white cross on a red background.
At the end of the presentation we go to the flight line for boarding.
We are divided into groups of 16 and then we settle in 2 files from 8: one rises from the sliding tailgate on one side and one from the one on the opposite side. Boarding takes place in a few seconds, with the rotor in motion and after we are all secured with the belts a 4 points take off. In the photo below you can see the GPS track of the ascent.
A few minutes and we are landed on the microscopic pitch behind the command post of Ebenfluh ( Command post Ebenfluh - KP Ebenfluh). Even the descent from the helicopter takes place with the rotor in motion and in a few seconds our elevator with rotating blades returns in the air towards a new load, giving way to the car that follows us a few seconds away. The mechanism is oiled and perfectly efficient: 5 helicopters carried more than 500 fewer people 2 hours and in perfect safety!
Below is the video of the flight
The high-altitude scenario e, always eats, breathtaking: the three main seats for the public (Brau, Tschingel e Ebenfluh, the latter reserved for media and guests) they are lined up in front of the already snow-dotted Wildgarst and the view of the Alps is breathtaking.
All 13:30 it begins.
The first Hornet is low in the gorge and distracts us from the second that slips between the Ebenfluh and the Tschingel, at full afterburners and releasing flare as if there was no tomorrow, leaving us stunned by noise and fright. The steps with the use of the Vulcan from 20 mm that shoots at the targets follow each other relentlessly. Eventually the formation of the 4 protagonists (seasoned also in this case by flare in profusion) reserves us the surprise of the presence of the Hawker Hunter T.Mk.68 J-4206 HB-RVV "Double Victory" at its last performance in an official airshow. The following Saturday the aircraft was withdrawn from the flight line of the Fliegermuseum Altenrhein and is now on display to the public in the association's museum.
The show continues with the display of the Super Puma Display Team that manages to spin the large French twin-engine in minimal spaces and, always eats, gives us a Christmas tree of flare as you rarely see around. They follow 2 helicopters of the same type equipped with the Bambi Bucket loaded with water that spread inside the valley.
It is then up to the Air Policing mission in which 2 Hornet intercept a Pilatus PC 24.
It’ then the turn of the paratroopers who are launched at high altitude from 2 PC 6 Turbo Porters who then perform a very low formation flight, followed by a mixed training with F 18, PC 7 and PC 21. At the end of the passage the Hornet releases and the roar of the afterburners of the Swiss Hornet Display Team (piloted this year by Capt. Yannick “Fönsi” Zanata) fills the air. A very tight and very effective performance that ends with a quick passage to the Mach limit 1, with the shock waves clearly visible against the background of the rock.
The noise of the 2 F 404 is replaced by the hiss of the 1600 PT sHP 6 of the small PC trainer 21 in Pilate: small in size but great in performance and speed that he never fails to demonstrate at the commands of Lieutenant Colonel Daniel "Stampa" Stämpfli.
It is shortly before the conclusion of the event. Time to bring a special forces team with a Super Puma (KSK: Special Forces Command) on a hill in front of the public and from there fire with machine guns and anti-tank missile launchers at the targets placed on the opposite wall.
The conclusion of the event touches, always eats, to Patrouille Suisse which with its magnificent F 5E Tiger gives to the public that has risen to 2341 mt of altitude a last dose of emotions.
The event is over. The weather assisted us (it will not be the same, unfortunately, the day after, with the event canceled due to strong winds and rain at high altitude). We reward ourselves with a rich lunch waiting for the return flight, shorter but just as exciting.
The homecoming is without history.
As always, the awareness of having had the privilege of attending an airshow like no other in the world remains, in a setting of incomparable beauty, impeccably organized.
Thanks to the Swiss Air Forces, the Press Office of the Swiss Army, the Super Puma crews who transported us to the shooting range and all the people who made Axalp 2021 a perfect and unforgettable event.
To you photos