The last week has seen news that two major European displays will not be gracing airshows in 2012.
Team Viper announced via it’s facebook site that it was not continuing into 2012. Ever since it’s inception on the BAC Strikemaster in 2009, Viper have been a impressive addition to the display circuit.The team performed at major events throughout Europe such as the Sanicole Airshow, the Royal Netherlands Air Force Open Dagen, Royal International Air Tattoo and the Biggin Hill International Air Fair. 2010 saw the team ‘evolve’ onto the much more potent Hawker Hunter, first presenting a mixed fourship of two Hunters joined by two Strikemasters before a full fourship of Hunters was presented at RAF Leuchars and Sanicole Airshows that year. The team even ventured further afield to the Middle East performing at the Bahrain International Air Show, Al Ain Aerobatics Show and the Abu Dhabi round of Red Bull Air Race World Series.
Team Viper’s news was quickly followed by news from France that the French Air Force Alpha Jet solo was to be stood down. France is facing up to military cutbacks as are the majority of European Air Forces and it is likely the Alpha Jet will not be only ‘airshow favourite’ to be axed in these austere times. The French Air Force Alpha Jet solos have been amongst the best military solo displays on the circuit highlighting the impressive aerobatic performance of the Franco-German designed trainers. The French Air Force solo demo last performed in the UK at the Duxford Airshow 2011 in September though it was due to appear at the fog-bound Jersey International Air Display a week later. It is a sad loss to airshows across Europe and now means the only operators of the Alpha Jet on the airshow circuit will be Patruoille de France and the civilian Flying Bulls examples.
Both displays will be greatly missed by organisers and enthusiasts. However both reflect the difficulties faced by displays teams and air arms in balancing budget in these difficult times.