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On 22 August 1964 to be precise, the Patrouille Suisse was officially founded. It is also the 10th season they are flying the F-5 E Tiger. The idea of putting together a team of professional pilots to do public aerobatic displays was mooted as early as 1959. At that time the Surveillance Wing received an order to form a team of four machines for display purposes. The formations used a British fighter aircraft, which was the Hawker Hunter Mk 58.
With the Expo 1964 national exhibition in Lausanne and the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Swiss Air Force in view, formation training with the Hawker Hunter display team was intensified. Jubilee displays were organised throughout the country and attracted hundreds of thousands of spectators, as well as the Swiss press. It was during these displays that the name Patrouille Suisse was adopted, in imitation of the French display team, the Patrouille de France. The Federal Department of Defence, as it was called at the time, was convinced of the value of formation flying displays for the public image of the Air Force and accordingly appointed the Patrouille Suisse as official national aerobatic team.
In 1965, the Patrouille Suisse organised a whole season of displays with four appearances. Subsequently, the programme was constantly refined and the precise execution of individual figures was perfected. In 1970, a fifth machine was added – with the positive result that the performance became even more attractive. At the time, however, the team was not able to perform abroad because of Switzerland’s strict policy of neutrality.
This changed in 1978 when the Patrouille Suisse was invited to take part in the celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Patrouille de France and was finally able to display its talent abroad – in Salon-de-Provence – with a new total of six aircraft. The following years saw many more successful displays at home and abroad, for example in France, Italy etc.
In 1991, as part of the celebrations in connection with the 700th anniversary of the Swiss Confederation, the Patrouille Suisse’s Hawker Hunters were given a new coat of paint: the underside of the wings now bore the Swiss colours: red and white. In addition, the logo for the 700th anniversary was painted on the fuselage. This new livery proved very popular with the public.
It was in 1994 that the Patrouille Suisse team performed for the last time in the Hawker Hunters. The successor, the faster and more manoeuvrable American F-5 E Tiger, represented a new challenge for the team after 30 years of flying the Hunters. In 1995, the pilots took this change in their stride … and the public at home and abroad was and still is enthusiastic about the now overall red and white livery.
The highlight of the first season with the Tigers was two displays over Axalp during the shooting demonstration. Here, the Patrouille Suisse was able to show that displays can also be organised away from airfields.
Since 1996, the Patrouille Suisse has been performing at home and abroad with a smoke system integrated into the aircraft. On the one hand this novelty is an added pleasure for the spectators, but on the other also an added safety device for the pilots, who when crossing can see each other much earlier when the smoke is turned on.
The Patrouille Suisse has been wowing crowds during many military flight displays in the past years. With increasing frequency however, it is demonstrating its skills at civilian events, as for example the Madonna and Rolling Stones concerts, the Ski World Championships, the Lauberhorn ski races, the opening ceremony of the Football European Championships and the America's Cup in Valencia.

source Suisse Air Force

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