English translation by Frank McMeiken
On 29 June , at its BA 132 Colmar Meyenheim base in France, one of the most “historical” squadrons of the Armée de l’Air, EC 2/30 "Normandie Niemen", celebrated its sixty years of service. The bases house two squadrons flying a total of Mirage F 1CT, EC 1/30 Alsace and the aforementioned "Normandie". The airfield, located a short way from the German border, had also housed, since the end of the eighties and early nineties, EC13 (Escare), equipped with the Mirage V, which in this area of Alsace saw out the conclusion of their operational career. Their heritage was passed on to the Mirage F 1CT, a re-working of the “old” Mirage F 1C, which retained the original airframe but introduced a generational leap in the evolution of its weapon system. EC30, now operating from Colmar, was previously located at Reims, and was equipped with the Mirage F 1C/B.The anniversary celebrations were divided over two distinct; the first saw the staging of a solemn ceremony, on the Saturday morning, dedicated to the Squadron’s serving personnel and the unit’s veterans, accompanied by their families, and which saw the participation of senior officers from the General Staff. The celebrations were accompanied by music from the Armée de l’Air’s band. On the Sunday, however, a major Air Show, open to the public, was organised, and attracted a significant presence from that part of the population who closely follow the armed forces; the aerial evolutions of the participating aircraft were, obviously ,repeated on both of the days.
Amongst the numerous aerobatic teams present, apart from the obvious home favourites, the Patrouille de France, were the Spanish “Aguila Team”, the Patrouille Suisse, the “Turkish Stars”, the Morrocan “Marche Verde”, and finally the Jordanians, while there was large scale attendance by historic aircraft, such as the Bronco, P 47, Vampire, T 28, Yak 11, Yak 3, Zephyr, and others.
Foreign nations which had responded to the invitation were: Italy with an MB 339A and a P 180, Germany with a Phantom and Tornado ECR/IDS, Swedend with a Viggen in commemorative colours, Austria with a Draken, Singapore with two Skyhawk, and Belgium with two Fouga Magister. Armee de l’Air participation was, however, somewhat limited, with a Mirage 2000-5F, a Mirage 2000D, a Transall, a Combat SAR Super Puma and an Alpha Jet, while the Marine and Armee de Terre were strangely absent.
Image and text by Giorgio Ciarini
Published on JP 4 October 2002