The Patrouille suisse is one of the few aerobatic teams in Europe to fly fighter aircraft. The team was founded in 1964 and flew fighters from its inception.
Back then, it was the Hawker Hunter, which the team continued to fly until 1994. The Hunter had been replaced by the F-5 as Switzerland’s main fighter in that period and the F-5 also succeeded the Hunter with the Patrouille suisse. The F-5 is a light, fast and agile little fighter aircraft that can make plenty of noise with its afterburners. It has been replaced by the F-18 Hornet but the F-5 still maintains active duties and also assists with the training of F-18 pilots by offering dissimilar air combat experience.
Patrouille Suisse with its six F-5 Tigers is based at Emmen and is now one of the two aerobatic teams of the Swiss air force, the other being the PC7 TEAM. The pilots are all active F-18 pilots in the Swiss air force and only fly the F-5 for once per week for team practices and demonstrations during the weekend.
One of the characteristics in recent years is that the team uses plenty of flares throughout its demonstration, in addition to more traditional white smoke. Also make sure you catch some of the teams signature manoeuvers like the shadow, where the three wingmen hide behind the leader’s aircraft, and the tunnel, during which the solo flies through a gap in the main formation.
F-5 Tiger II