For several years, the Swiss Air Force has been running a project called SPHAIR, which serves the goal of scouting talented young aviators. Those who successfully complete the intense 2 week course are obviously very highly regarded in the aviation industry and it therefore comes as no surprise that Swiss aviation businesses are very keen on attracting these skilled pilots to their cadet schemes. This year, in order to court the young aviators even more, SPHAIR partners SWISS and the Swiss Air Force set up a special day packed full of incentives and highlights. Wanna come along? It’ll be a whole lot of fun!

 

 

We start our journey at Zurich Airport, where our brand-new Bombardier C-Series is already awaiting us at Gate B35. Meanwhile on the departure board, our destination of Emmen, a place with a mere 30’000 inhabitants, stands out among the world-famous metropolis’!

 

Here's an overview of our route

Reaching Runway 28, we’re soon ready to take off into the blue skies – the CSeries once again impressing with its fantastic climb performance. 

 

As we climb to our cruising altitude of 15'000 feet and set course for the Alps, the Swiss countryside whizzes past below - including the city of Lucerne with its beautiful lake. Are you able to spot Buochs Airport, home of the Pilatus airplanes? 

 

 

 

It doesn't take long for us to reach the beautiful Alpine scenery!

Here we are overhead one of Switzerland's major sights: Aletsch Glacier! 

Oh! Something must be going on out there! 

Lo' and behold, looks like we're being intercepted by the Swiss Air Force! 

Two F/A-18 Hornets are rapidly closing in on us, simulating a visual identification necessitated by a loss of communications. 

What a unique sight!

 

Here's a quick video of the same scene. Amazing precision!

Taking a better look at our new friends :-)

Despite the presence of the fighter jets, one shouldn't forget to value the stunningly beautiful scenery though! 

The best strategy however is to combine both :-)

 

Heading to the cockpit to see how our pilots are doing. All alive and well, heavily banking over the snow-capped peaks and enjoying every minute of it! 

 

Meanwhile the Visual ID has turned into a Photo Mission, which leads to an older F-5 Tiger (the photo ship) also gracing us with its presence. 

Simply beautiful! 

 

 

Trying to take a couple undisturbed shots of the scenery...

 

...which isn't all that easy with those Fighter Jets playing peekaboo behind our winglet :-)

 

Finally, the Air Force jets escort us back to civilization, scaring the hell out of the uninformed public in the process :-)

 

Like it could be the case with a real ID mission, they escort us to the military base of Emmen, signalling us to land there. And of course we obey :-)

Here's a video I made of our landing at Emmen. Wait for the firm touchdown - which was apparently caused by the relatively narrow dimensions of the local runway. Being narrower than the ones at all the big airports in the Swiss network, it gave the pilots the impression of still being higher up than they were in reality, leading to a delayed flare. An illusion my own ATPL books have lectured me on countless times :-)

 

 

 

At Emmen, no handcuffs and police cars are waiting though, but a bunch of photographers instead (plus the head of the Air Force). 

 

In order to give the young flyers an additional boost of motivation to pursue a career in aviation, SPHAIR invited Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier to give a speech. The passionate aviator surely delivered, taking the crowd through the many steps of his eventful life while impressing with his humble, amiable and down-to-earth personality.

The setting wasn't too bad either - an F-5 of the Patrouille Suisse was watching us the whole time!

 

The motivational part concluded with a panel where Mr. Nicollier was joined by the head of the Air Force as well as the Bombardier C Series Captain who flew us here, who all discussed about the many benefits an aviation career holds in store. 

 

The schedule was tight and adhered to with military precision. Soon, part of the group was escorted to the Air Force's Super Puma helicopters which flew them back to Zurich as an additional treat. 

The less lucky ones (or were we?) had to content ourselves with another ride in the CSeries - which I didn't mind at all! 

Ready for departure! And with only 20 passengers on board, the agile Canadian jet again demonstrated its fighter-like performance. We were airborne after a mere 1000 meters (which is only a third of the airbase's runway) and climbed away with over 3'200ft per minute. An impressive show! 

 

 

Check out the video to get a better impression of our skyrocketing CSeries!

 

The rest of the 14-minute flight was perfect to enjoy some cloud-surfing...

...before we were established on the approach to Zurich's runway 14 way to soon. 

Thanks to SPHAIR and SWISS for the fantastic event! While I definitely didn't need any additional motivation for a career in aviation, it was a unique opportunity nonetheless and I highly appreciate the fact that such things are still possible in the highly regulated and economized aviation world of 2017! 


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