PAST AND PRESENT "PATROUILLE SUISSE" FLIGHTGEAR
During the ‘50, various western Air Forces, one after the other, endowed themselves with demonstration teams, in most cases equipped with the most modern military jet aircrafts.
In Switzerland, DH-100 Vampires of the “Überwachungsgeschwader” (ÜeG - Air Force Surveillance Wing) carried out the first “unofficial” displays, with a two 2-ships formation, during the celebrations for the Zürich-Kloten airport inauguration in 1953.
Between 1955 and 1958, during a small number of important events, four DH-112 Venom carried out the demos.
In 1959, with the introduction of the Hawker Hunter Mk.58, the SAF command began to regulate, still in an unofficial way, the displays - with very narrow limits. Only in 1963, the formation was allowed to perform aerobatic manoeuvres.
The team hadn’t an official name, but by analogy with the French aerobatic team, the Swiss one was commonly known as the "Patrouille Suisse (PS)"
Given its public success, the SAF command decided to formalize the PS and its name (not without some controversy) assigning four Hunters to the team.
The first official demos were performed during the National Exhibition and the 50-year jubilee of the Swiss AF, both held in 1964.
In 1965, the team had their first scheduled season attending four airshows. In the following years, the display programme was constantly improved. During 1970, another aircraft was assigned to the team; in 1977, a smoke system was fitted to the aircrafts.
However, due to Switzerland’s policy of neutrality, the team wasn’t allowed to perform abroad. This changed in 1978, when the team was invited– now with six aircraft – to the 25th anniversary of the Patrouille de France at Salon-de-Provence, France.
For the 700-year anniversary of the Swiss Confederation in 1991, the appearance of the PS Hunters was changed: the lower wing sides now shone with the Swiss national colours, red and white. Three years later, the PS pilots flew the Hunter for the last time and in 1995 transferred to the Northrop F-5E Tiger II, still in use today.
The DH-100 "Doppelpatrouille" pilots are reporting ready before one of the displays of the early '50. They wear:
The four relaxed PS pilots are pictured near the entry gate of Payerne AFB. "Escadre de Surveillance" is the french translation of "Überwachungsgeschwader" - Air Force surveillance wing .
( In italian - " Squadra di Vigilanza" or "Squadra di Sorveglianza" ).
Their equipment having evolved, they are now provided with a
During 1975 the PS pilots were provided with a locally made orange flying suit. As the P-Kombi 50 made of no-fireproof cotton, worn usually by GRD (Gruppe für Rüstungsdienste - Armament Services Group) pilots, the suit was a copy of the US CWU-27 modified with the grade rank holder and the ( very useful, in fact) side zipped entry.
In the picture, PS pilots proudly wear the new designed patch and various models of the popular "Schnitz" ( Police sidecap).
PS patch 1975-1988.
In 1978, a sixth Hunter was assigned to the PS; at the same time, it was decided to have a more catchy livery applied to the pilots H-5s.
The ALSE shop in Dübendorf arranged three prototypes, the one painted in metallic blue (it is said to be the "Alpine Metallisé bleu” of Renault Alpine A110) was chosen.
According to one of the former PS commanders, the choice based on "must like it and must be for free".
In 1982, the fireproof CWU-27 replaced the orange cotton flight suit,
and a new version of the CSU-13 anti-g garment implemented.
In the below picture, the Hunter is decorated with the "ad interim" logo applied 1979.
Although the “definitive” PS logo applied to the aircrafts in 1981, only during 1987 the new HGU-55, decorated accordingly, replaced the "Bleu Alpine" H-5s.
Despite the replacement of the Hawker Hunter with the red-white Northrop F-5E Tiger II in 1995, this helmet livery was in use until 2006.
PS patch 1989-1994.
in 1995 the PS switched from the thrustworthy Hunter to the F-5 E, and, also follwing the equipment evolution, the CSU-13 anti-g garments were replaced by the new BFA AGH-1, the "Pilotenschue 63" with the "Pilotenschuhe 92"; the MBU-5 oxygen mask with the low profile HA-LP/PPB; the PS patch also updated accordingly.
PS patch 1995 -
Probably during seasons 2003-2004 (in 2004 the Patrouille Suisse celebrating 40 years of operations) a "party suit" was implemented, as a standard CWU-73 without the usual swiss modification, as the rank pocket or the zipped side entries.
in this rather pathetic attempt (it would be necessary to remove some centimeters of waistline to add them to the height) our "model" imitates an image taken from one of the recent annual publications of the PS in which the current crew garments are shown. in 2007 the red-white helmet replaced the blue one, the pictured LG-1073A life vest replaced by the PU-CH-07.
Today's PS pilot are equipped with:
- CWU-27 Flight Suit (CH mod);
- PS design t-shirt;
- BFA AGH-1 Anti-g garment;
- "Pilotenschuhe 06" boots;
- PU-CH-07 life vest ( missing in the LH picture)
in 2016, a red "party suit" replaced the blue CWU-73, which has been assigned (in 2019) to ground crew.
The suit is made of no fire retardant fabric with the PS logo embroidered on the left arm and behind the neck.
(...as already mentioned, our "model" is a bit short legged...)