The last airshow at Reims Air Base (BA112)

On 27 and 28 June of 2009, the French Air Force organized an airshow at Reims Air Base (Base Aérienne 112 Reims-Champagne). The airshow was called ‘Meeting du Centenaire’ and was organized to commemorate the first airshow at Reims, 100 years ago in August 1909. With the upcoming closure of the base in 2011, this was the last air show to be held at this beautifully situated air base in the Champagne region.

‘Ditch Ditching’ from a Lakenheath Eagle
Most of the aircraft for the event arrived on Friday 26 June. The Friday started with clear blue skies and high temperatures, but during the afternoon dark clouds gathered around the air base and the temperatures dropped about 10 degrees Celsius. In the vicinity thunderstorms could be heard and flashes could be seen. The wind also picked up heavily, making the arrival for the aircraft difficult. That became clear with the arrival of two F-15Es from RAF Lakenheath, U.K.. When the first Eagle touched ground, a sudden gust of wind made the Eagle jump up and blown to the left of the runway. When the wheels touched ground again, its left rear wheel touched the sand beside the runway. The pilot immediately turned on the afterburners and managed to get the Eagle airborne again. The next day, the pilot was wondering if we had seen his ´Ditch Ditching´ adventure the day before. (Click here to download a small video of the landing (source unknown))

Where were the F.1s?
Reims Air Base was at that time the only Mirage F.1 air base in France, so lots of F.1s were expected during the two-day airshow. There were years, when the organizing squadrons send up as many of their planes as they could during an airshow. But not this year. Although there were a few F.1s on the static, there were more expected in the airshow. Unfortunately, there were no F.1s in the official program. So, the two F.1s that flew on Saturday morning, have to be considered as a bonus.

Variety of planes, but more on the static than in the airshow
There was no large French contribution in the airshow. Besides the F.1s on Saturday, only a fly-by of two Mirage 2000s with a USAF KC-135 and a solo displays of a Rafale and an Alpha Jet.Other solo planes in the showwere a Dutch and Belgian F-16 and a Swedish Gripen. The demo teams present were Spanish Patrulla Aquilla, the Royal Jordanian Falcons, Morrocan ‘Marche Verte’, the Swiss PC-7 team, Asus de Portugal, the Red Arrows and the inevitable Patrouille de France. The static show saw more variety, but for aircraft enthusiasts it was almost impossible to take decent pictures. Luckily those possibilities where more than enough present during the arrival and departure days of the aircraft.