Springtime In Provence

 

Picturesque Sete    With a daughter nearing the end of a year as an assistante at a school in Valence , there was a need to visit her for the purpose of transporting a lot of her accumulated junk back to UK . After debating many options, the final outcome was that wife and No.2 daughter drove out to Valence to spend a week with Carol. All three then moved down to Provence for a week at Sete near Montpellier . Now there is always plenty of aeronautical interest in the south of France and so it transpired that I flew out to join them the Thursday before Easter. Join them? Well, sort of. A friend flew out to Nimes at the same time as I flew to Montpellier . We spent a day doing the rounds together before John deposited me at Sete to sample the seafood with the girls and took the car for a second day on his own, prior to flying back. The Bursell family then made the long drive home, leaving Carol in Valence with just the basic necessities of life for the next few weeks.

 

 

EGSS STANSTED 5.4.07:Securite Civile badge

 

Flew from Stansted to Montpellier on Ryanair's Boeing 737-8AS EI-DAE (c/n 33545) "FR632" taking off from runway 23 at 06:14 and landing on runwy 31R at Montpellier at 07:45 (08:45L).

 

My flight was due in 45 minutes ahead of Johns which meant that after quickly noting based Ecureil 1756/JCH and EC145 F-ZBPO I had time to collect a car and drive to Nimes just in time to see him land. First item on the agenda was then a pre-arranged visit to the Securite Civile:-

 

LFTW NIMES-GARONS 5.4.07:

 

Noted here with the Echelon Central Groupement d'Helicopteres were:-

 

EC145C2s F-ZBPA, F-ZBPK, F-ZBPM, F-ZBPN, F-ZBPY, F-ZBPZ, F-ZBQB.

Alouette IIIs F-ZBAN, F-ZBDJ.

 

QB was being prepared for shipment to Guadaloupe (presumably to replace QC) and left by road on 6.4 for Paris and onward air-freight.

 

Now a gate guard, former F-ZBAF    The current fleet, exemplified by F-ZBPA    Ready for onward shipment, F-ZBQB

 

With the French show season coming up, it may be helpful to list the current allocations of the Securite Civile EC145 fleet (though I seem to have lost PF). These change as the aircraft come up for servicing, unlike the Gendarmerie fleet which are permanent allocations to their base, however this gives a good indication as to what should be where for the next few weeks/months:-

 

F-ZBPA

Nimes

F-ZBPB

W/o 5.6.06

F-ZBPC

W/o 20.7.03

F-ZBPD

Perpignan

F-ZBPE

Ajaccio

F-ZBPF

F-ZBPG

Pau

F-ZBPH

Grenoble

F-ZBPI

Clermont Ferrand

F-ZBPJ

Annecy

F-ZBPK

Nimes (overhaul)

F-ZBPL

Le Havre

F-ZBPM

Nimes (overhaul)

F-ZBPN

Nimes (overhaul)

F-ZBPO

Montpellier

F-ZBPP

Lorient

F-ZBPQ

Marignane

F-ZBPR

Bastia

F-ZBPS

Strasbourg

F-ZBPT

Granville

F-ZBPU

Lille

F-ZBPV

La Rochelle

F-ZBPW

Paris

F-ZBPX

Quimper

F-ZBPY

Nimes

F-ZBPZ

Nimes (overhaul)

F-ZBQA

Cannes

F-ZBQB

Guadaloupe

F-ZBQC

Guadaloupe

F-ZBQD

Besancon

F-ZBQE

Lyon

F-ZBQF

Bordeaux

 

Dumped here is ex ALAT Alouette III 1575 which used to serve as a spares Christmas tree. Recently mounted at the gate is Securite Civile example F-ZBAF (c/n 1075) whilst F-ZBDC (c/n 1435) sits derelict. Stored next to the civil terminal is ex Gabon Government DC-8 TR-LTZ.

 

Stored over on the Aeronavale side are Alizes 49, 50, 52, 53, 55, 56 and 59. More active were Xingus 65, 67, 68 and 56S Nord 262Es 52, 63, 70 and 71.

 

Preserved here are C-47 87, Alize 5 and Atlantic 31.

 

LFML MARSEILLE-MARIGNANE 5.4.07:

 

I dont normally make a habit of lingering at civil airports, but Marseille has lots to offer being the main water bomber base for the Securite Civile and also being the home of a Eurocopter factory:-

 

Securite Civile:

Turbo Firecat:

F-ZBAZ/01, F-ZBEY/07, F-ZBEH/20, F-ZBAA/22, F-ZBCZ/23

CL415s:

F-ZBFX/34, F-ZBFV/37, F-ZBEG/39, F-ZBEU/42, F-ZBME/44, F-ZBMF/45

DHC-8Q-400MR:

F-ZBMD/74

King Air:

F-ZBFJ/98, F-ZBFK/96, F-ZBMB/97

EC145C2:

F-ZBPQ

Good to catch two new CL415s but a shame the other Dash-8 was not around as the Sec Civ are having problems with these and they may be sold on.

 

Aeromecanic:

 

2254        Alouette III, ex '341-DB' CIEH.341, AdlA, and Chateaudun store.

 

There are a lot of Alouette IIs and IIIs stored here. 2254 was the only one identifiable from outside and happily a new arrival since our last visit to Aeromecanic.

 

Eurocopter: Displayed nearby Eurocopter is F-ZBBV

 

There is a lot of activity at Eurocopter these days, with the ramping up of NH90 production of particular interest. The following were noted outside the factory.

 

(704)        AS532AL Cougar, (c/n 2704?) No.4 for Bulgarian AF.

(2375)      AS532UL Cougar, FV GAM.56, AdlA (rework).

(2633)      EC725AP Cougar, 'BJQ' DAOS, ALAT (rework).

(1018)      NH90-NFH, (c/n 1018) F-ZWTO No.1 for Aeronavale.

-              NH90-TTH, (c/n ....) F-ZVLF No.1 for Australian Army.

(ES-...)    NH90-TTH, (c/n 1032) F-ZWTH No.1 for Hellenic Army.

(ES-...)    NH90-TTH, (c/n ....) F-ZWTS No.4 for Hellenic Army.

(142055)  NH90 (Hkp14B), (c/n 1012) (F-ZWTG for RSwedAF.

(2016?)    Tigre HAP, (c/n 2016?) F-ZKBK for ALAT.

 

John got lucky on his return visit next day and picked up Finnish NH90 KH-203 and Saudi Navy Cougar 716 (one of three currently back here for rework).

 

A mile or two from Marignane is preserved CL215 F-ZBBV/46 at St Victoret. In a building nearby a new aviation museum is being put together. Its not open as yet and was shut up (nothing visible) on this occasion, but John returned the next day and was allowed a quick preview by the workmen. Here are the cockpit of CL215 F-ZBBD/29, Alouette IIIs 1692 (ex ALAT), F-ZBDG, Mirage 3B 225, Paris 119/ML plus a few civvies/mock-ups.

 

VITROLLES 5.4.07:

 

The Lycee P Mendes-France has several instructional airframes. Of interest to us are:-

 

2            SN601 Corvette, ex 'MW' CEV and Istres store.

453        Mirage IIIE, ex 13-QA EC.1/13, AdlA.

372        CM170R Magister, ex EC.12, AdlA.

 

Apart from the Mirage, inside access is required to view these. Its a sobering thought that it was a quarter of a century ago when Mirage IIIE 453 and I first became acquainted.

 

Former AdlA Corvette    Mirage IIIE 453    CM.170 Magister 372

 

LFMY SALON-DE-PROVENCE 5.4.07:

 

The highlight here was my last French Tucano, 480/312-JY which I was most pleased to pick up as the Ecole de lAir start to retire the type next year, being replaced by (civilian) TB10s and Grobs the first of which are already here. Lesser examples of the Tucano seen were:-

456/JA, 461/JF, 462/JG, 463/JH, 464/JI, 467/JL, 468/JM, 471/JP, 472/JQ, 473/JR, 474/JS, 479/JX, 483/UB, 484/UC, 488/UG, 489/UH, 490/UI, 492/UK, 493/UL, 494/UM, 500/US,

 

Jodels active were D.140Es 198/XE and 200/XY. Surprisingly no Tucanos flew today but all these were outside and the following day was a normal flying day (Good Friday is not a bank holiday in France).

 

Still on the dump is the wreckage of Tucano 482 and of course there is an assortment of preserved aircraft around the base including a Mystere IV, Jaguar and several Magisters.

 

LFMV AVIGNON-CAUMONT 5.4.07:

 

There is a warbird outfit at the airport witn some interesting hardware:-

 

124541        F4U Corsair, (F-AZYS) 133704 ex Argentine Navy.

127002        AD4N Skyraider, 20-LA (F-AZHK).

28               CM175 Zephyr, (F-AZPF) ex Aeronavale.

50-0244       T-28A-NA, ex Zaire AF FG-244, and Eric Voormezele collection.

87958          A-37B-CE, (c/n 43105) ex SVNAF.

 

The A-37 is best described as stored, dismantled. The T-28 was fully stripped and dismantled ready for a thorough rebuild whilst the remainder are all active.

 

Skyraider at Avignon    Maritime version of the Magister, the CM.175 Zephyr    Ex Zaire AF T-28 fuselage

 

 

 

ORANGE 5.4.07:

Musee Aeronautique d'Orange

 

Specially marked Mirage IIIBThe collection here is well known and I will not repeat a listing. New for me was ex EPNER Mirage IIIB-1 231, still in special marks 1996. This is available for exchange as is Magister 350. Further new arrivals are Mirage IIIE 495/3-XL and Paris 91 (which is inside). The IIIE was supposed to have been supplied to Brazil after leaving storage at Chateaudun but obviously never made it. The owner would like to acquire an ex RAF Jaguar (most of the remaining French examples are, or will be, extensively stripped for parts).

 

 

 

 

 

SAVIGNY-LES-BEAUNE 8.4.07: The Chateau at Savigny (try the wine!)

 

A night-stop in Beaune gave me the opportunity to call at Savigny to catch up with some new arrivals here:-

 

Musee du Chateau

 

1811       Lim-2, (c/n 1B01811) ex Polish AF,

609         Lim-5P, (c/n 1D0609) ex Polish AF.

A-057      F-84G Thunderjet, (52-3057) ex 'KP-X' Esk.730, RDAF, Wfu 1.5.61.

323         TS-11 bis B, (c/n 1H0323) ex Polish AF and Biala Podlaska.

 

Again, Savigny is well documented elsewhere. If you have never been there, go for it. Savigny is the largest private collection of aircraft in France and its all sheer quality mostly fighters of the 50s, 60s and 70s.

 

Polish Lim-5 at Savigny    Danish F-84 at Savigny    Jean and Maries helicopter

LFSD DIJON-LONGVIC 8.4.07:

 

A couple of wrecks had eluded me here in the past but were tracked down on this occasion, preserved on the east side of the base and accessed through the village of Neuilly . In total there are three aircraft preserved on ths side:-

 

14          Mirage 5F, ex 13-PW EC.2/13, AdlA.

226         MH1521M Broussard, ex '2-HF' SALE/EC.2, AdlA and Apt.

SKY479      H-34A, (c/n SA4) ex AdlA and instructional at Nimes-Courbessac.

 

 

 

One of the many poignant war memorials in Northern FranceVIMY 9.4.07:  

 

On the way home we called at the Canadian war memorial at Vimy, which was to be re-dedicated the following day after extensive renovation. This was a major event involving Mirages from Cambrai, Fennecs also from Cambrai and whilst we were there a Gendarmerie Ecureil 1811/JCL from Amiens . After that, a visit to East Enders at Calais to fill any remaining space in the car, then home.