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Winter night

I love winter! I adore winter! I prefer cold over heat. That’s maybe why I’d rather go on vacation to some Scandinavian country instead of tropics. And of course there’s nothing more “sacred” for me, than the arrival of the first snow of the season. It happened this Saturday and it was snowing into the night throughout most of the country. Yesterday, the skies cleared eventually and while this meant that most of the heavy snow in the lowlands is gonna melt, the one higher up will definitely remain for a while. So as I went to sleep sometime past 11pm and looked through the window, I just knew I had to take shot.

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Axalp is so much more than an airshow. Axalp is experience!

Not only do you have to climb the mountain, to attend it, you must also expect the unexpected – especially the sudden changes of weather. And the weather was the culprit this year as well. Tuesday’s afternoon airshow was cancelled because of incoming rain. Wednesday’s airshow was already cancelled the night before and while we woke up to a starry night on Thursday’s early morning at 3AM, the show was eventually cancelled because of the low cloud cover.

Below photos were taken on Tuesday, waiting for the to-be cancelled afternoon practice on Tschingel and Thursday’s hike up to sunlit Wildgärst.

The people of Tschingel

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Hike up the mountain always wets the appetite – forget the power bars; there’s nothing better than a piece of bread and sausage enjoyed in fresh Alpine air.

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Damn, this thing is heavy!

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When visiting such an event, don’t forget to document everything! By any means necessary.

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Sharp, Soft, Out of Focus, Delete, Sharp, Soft, Out of Focus, Delete,…

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While most of the photographers feel sorry for themselves, carrying the heavy camera equipment up the hill, the award goes to this guy – carrying two kids!

The attack on Wildgärst

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While we started in pitch black night, crossing alpine streams and our paths lit only by headlamps, the dawn up in the Alps always look amazing.

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Panorama of the area below the Schwarzhorn, looking towards the West. Click on the photo for bigger resolution.

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One of the most amazing things in the Alps – sunrise!

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My two Swiss guides, Grimmi and Adrian with our destination, Wildgärst in the background.

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Finally on top! Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains bask in the morning sunlight!

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NE to SW panorama from the Wildgärst. Click on the photo for bigger resolution.

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F-5E Tigers flew in to check for the weather…

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…but while we were enjoying the sunshine, targets on the range were covered by low clouds, as was most of the Switzerland.

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Next visitor was this Pilatus PC-21.

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While the pilot couldn’t perform his display on the range, he did make a few inverted low passed for the people gathered on Wildgärst…

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…and disappeared behind the mountains again.

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In the meantime, we could at least feed and observe the feisty Alpine Choughs.

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Watchbird.

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The poser!

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Later, F/A-18 Hornets tried their luck to no avail.

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And all we could do, before returning down the mountain, was to observe Hornet intercepts above our heads.

Shining @ Kino Šiška, 7.11.2015

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F/A-18C Hornet at Axalp 2015

Swiss Air Force uses Hornets for main air-defense duty. Based at Payerne (FS17 and FS18) and Meiringen (FS11), they constitute the backbone of aerial defense of Switzerland. Although designed as a carrier-borne aircraft and a reliable multi-role platform, Hornet’s short reaction time and good performance make it ideal for the diverse Swiss terrain.

The following photos were taken on Tuesday, October 6th 2015.

Video clip shot with Samsung S5 Active.

 

 

F-5E Tiger II at Axalp 2015

Northrop F-5E Tiger II first flew in 1972. Swiss Air Force bought the first batch in 1978 and the second one in 1984. Tigers have proved cheap and easy to maintain and can provide adequate air-defense. All the F-5s are flown by a militia pilots – sort of a Air National Guard, consisting mainly of ex-SwAF pilots who are now flying airliners – that includes the Patrouille Suisse display team. Swiss AF operated a staggering 110 F-5E/Fs but unfortunately due to the fatigue only a handful remain in service. They ought to be replaced by JAS-39 Gripen, but due political decisions, the orders still hangs in the air.

The following photos were taken on Tuesday, October 6th 2015.

Pilatus PC-21 at Axalp 2015

Pilatus PC-21 follows a long line of light advanced prop-driven trainer aircraft coming from this Swiss manufacturer. Swiss Air Force uses 8 of these modern aircraft. Powered by a 1.600shp version of PT6 engine and equipped with glass-cockpit, HOTAS and 0-0 ejection seats, it enables the new pilots to transfer to jet fighters without the need to train in jet trainers first. On practice day, PC-21 flew a few of the display routines.

The following photos were taken on Tuesday, October 6th 2015.

Swiss Air Force uses 11 AS532UL Cougars (military designation for Super Puma) for troop and cargo transport. Despite being a fairly large transport helicopter, Swiss Air Force display team year after year shows the versatility and agility of this helicopters on airshows home and abroad. On this practice day, they made a couple of routines though unfortunately only the first one involved their signature flare drop.

The following photos were taken on Tuesday, October 6th 2015.

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