Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip
Shervin Fonooni, an intrepid photojournalist covered the Breitling Jet Team as they toured the world to witness journeys few have seen
There are stories of adventures that make you dream, others envy, Shervin Fonooni, an intrepid photojournalist covered Breitling Jet Team as they made their way around the world to witness journeys few have seen and no other aerobatic team has undertaken before. Let Fonooni’s lenses take you on an adventure with Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip.
Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip
The Breitling Jet Team has not seen the European sky for the last four years, and for good reason, they have been travelling from Fukushima to San Francisco via Siberia. It’s been a Round-the-world trip filled with images and anecdotes; and the Pilots and mechanics of the Breitling Jet Team shared this unique experience with Photojournalist Shervin Fonooni.
The Dragon Tour: beginning of Breitling Jet Team’s extraordinary adventure
Organising the Chinese leg of Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip was a challenge including he shuttle flight that led the team to Zhuhai: “We changed countries every week. So, every week we reset everything, and we started over with immigration and visa problems, flight authorization problems, import and export problems, and all the logistics…” said Patrick Marchand, the Left Outside Wingman.
“Really, we took ourselves for the Rolling Stones!” – Patrick Marchand, the Left Outside Wingman
Another very important factor to consider was the weather, especially in extreme regions, where the rainy season, monsoons and snowstorms have a real significance. Therefore, the organization of the agenda has been adapted according to local forecasts: “A lot of things were unpredictable. At first, we did not understand,” stated Jacques Bothelin, the Leader.
Despite environmental factors, the Breitling Jet Team has aroused unprecedented enthusiasm, and the pilots are adulated like rock stars after each display. In Thailand, even though it was a mere appearance, the public crossed the barriers and invaded the car park. Overtaken by the situation, soldiers were forced to evacuate the team: “Really, we took ourselves for the Rolling Stones!” pointed out Patrick Marchand.
This Asian tour was an opportunity to discover the cultural riches of these countries as well as an absolute change of scenery that contrasts with Europe: “We are not used to flying over totally snow- covered landscapes. When you pass from Irkutsk to Ulan Bator, you pass from the white to the ocher,” described Jean-Yves Moreau, one of six mechanics.
Other strong and magical moments marked the minds of the airmen, like the overflight of the Wall of China and Mount Fuji. They were also keen to pay tribute to the Japanese people who had experienced difficult events. After having landed in Hiroshima, the display team went to Fukushima: “It is a name that marks. We went there, not for marketing purposes, to sell watches… We were greeted in an extraordinary way, a very strong moment, full of emotions,” related the Right Inside Wingman Bernard Charbonnel.
“Circling Golden Bridge and Alcatraz is after all a privilege. Period!” – Charbo (callsign)
The Magic American Tour
Building on its Asian success, the largest professional civilian jet-flying team reiterated the experience and traveled to the land of Uncle Sam . This time, the planes crossed the Atlantic by sea. Without the pressure of a shuttle flight to the United States, the Breitling Jet Team’s mechanics nevertheless still had a considerable workload to dismantle and then later reassemble the Albatrosses.
For two seasons, the Breitling Jet Team crisscrossed the United States, rediscovering grandiose landscapes, especially since the team had very few weather problems during the period it flew: “The first year we started in Florida and we went up step by step to Boston. We crossed Vancouver in Canada, Texas… everywhere!” described Patrick Marchand, and Christophe Deketelaere, the First slot added: “The United States is a fantastic country to fly over, everything is wide, varied, it is extraordinary!”
If we were to summarise the Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip in a word, it would probably be admiration. Professional aviators, amateurs and enthusiasts have deservedly expressed respect and admiration for French members. On this point, the team was touched by this welcome: “The public was extremely warm. Whether it is Asia or the United States, the public is far warmer than in Europe” confided Bernard Charbonnel. Admiration also for the Jet Team with what it experienced for two years. Many will say they were lucky. Anyway, everyone in the French aerobatic team is aware of that: “Circling Golden Bridge and Alcatraz is after all a privilege. Period!” summed up “Charbo”.
“We had flown San Francisco Bay, we had done photo flights before, so we had already seen the site. But the first loop made in the bay, under the conditions that we did… it was the magic moment!” related Patrick Marchand.
Touring the United States the way they have, the team has discovered a country like none of its citizen will contemplate: “There were many Americans who told us: you are lucky, you have seen our country as we will never see it. Go from East to West, or from South to North, imagine the distance it makes! We had the opportunity to fly over the monuments, from places forbidden to other planes. It was just amazing among Niagara Falls, Mount Rushmore, Central Park, Golden Gate…” Abderrahim, team mechanic, described.
In two seasons, the Breitling’s ambassadors have made over 70 aerobatic demonstrations and have performed all over the North America. They accomplished what no other aerobatic team in the world has managed to. Breitling Jet Team’s Round-the-world Trip hasn’t just earned them legacy, but immortality.