This story began two months ago on April 13th after a flight around the Geneva area with two buddies. We were eating in an italian restaurant in Meyrin/Geneva. We were talking about the flight which we had just finished around the surroundings of GVA and were very enthusiasts. And soon we talked about the upcoming first flight of the A380 and how we wanted to attend this great event in Toulouse so badly. Unfortunately one of us was away during the period Airbus planned to perform the giant bird's inaugural flight. So the idea to see it in Le Bourget emerged quickly in my head and I proposed the following to my buddies "Ok, well... and what about if we go to the next Paris Air Show to see this marvel and go there with the Aeroclub’s Piper-Saratoga ?" and they both agreed with great enthusiasm "Woah ! Yeah ! We're in !". So the plan was to go from Geneva directly to Le Bourget and to go back the same day after the show. We drank a beer to celebrate this new project.
As we prepared this trip we quickly faced two potential problems, the first was to gather 6 persons (including the pilot) to fill the plane hence the price for renting the airplane and taxes fees (which are expensive in Le Bourget) would be much lower for each of us. Second problem to solve was to find out if we could land the airplane directly in Le Bourget during the show. The later problem was the biggest and for that matter I posted a message in the Civil Aviation part of airliners.net begging if somebody knew if we could eventually land on another airport near the show but didn’t have any answer. My buddy pilot 'Volaille' (his nickname) told me "Don’t worry Al I’ll find out". Few days later he called me and told me everything was setup and that we would land in Le Bourget as planned but that the landing and handling fees were very high as expected. And last but not least we would have to land before 0900am in Le Bourget. Although the high prices we arranged ourselves to find more buddies interested to come with us. All was going great ! For the moment at least...
One day before departing we received a phonecall by two guys who were supposed to go with us and they said "Sorry guys but to wake-up at 0600am saturday morning is just too hard for us... we rather prefer to go to ‘La fête de la Musique’ this week-end (a music festival), but we are honest and we’ll pay the price even if we don’t come with you"... We started desperately to look for two other persons to come with us but didn’t found any. We were only 4 persons to go.
Notes about the movie "A Trip To The Paris Air Show"
Before going more further in this trip report I want to emphasize that the videos can contains some harsh language made in french by my buddies from time to time. So people here on a.net who can understand this language please don't be offended, these are just jokes and nothing more. Now for the technical part: In order to watch the videos you'll need Windows Media Player or Real Media Player. For this project I've done a movie of 30 minutes length. However I decided to split this movie into 6 different chapters. So each chapter is available for separate downloading along this trip report, this is intended for those of you who doesn't have large internet bandwith or simply doesn't want to see the whole movie but just some specific chapters. The other option you have, the best in my opinion, is to download the complete movie in order to catch the feel of that particular day, plus you won't need to download the chapters separately I added some music to two scenes of the movie where the ambient sound had only noise of engines or wind. You can still hear these ambient sounds but I've lowered the volume and put some music above these noisy sounds. I think it adds dynamic to the movie.
To download the video onto your PC/Mac as usual right-click on the link and select "Save target as..."
A Trip To The Paris Air Show - The complete movie Real Media Format (30min / Size=101Mb)
A Trip To The Paris Air Show - The complete movie Windows Media Format (30min / Size=118Mb)
Geneva To Paris
Saturday June 18th was a beautiful day, I woke up at 0610am that morning, (I slept only 4 hours that night)I quickly perpared my backpack and as I live near the airport headed to the GVA airport on my bike. I saw some english spotters at the fence of RWY05 and I said "Hello early morning spotters !". Arriving at the Aeroclub my buddy 'Volaille' was waiting for me on the parking lot and he was talking on his cellphone, he seemed worried and pissed off. Soon he told me that he asked some days ago for Le Bourget and that he was told the only way we could land there without any problems was to be there before 0900am but he was informed very late we needed an extra authorisation to land at LBG. The big problem was that the guy who was supposed to deliver this authoriation was not available for the moment in LBG. So the immediat question was : What do we do ?
Basically we had two main options:
1. We fly there NOW to arrive before 0900am and ask for this f*ing authorisation inflight and divert to another small airport if we can’t make Le Bourget.
2. We cancel our journey to Le Bourget.
We took option 1 obviously and we decided to take-off as soon as possible to be there before 0900am and to have the max chance on our side.
June 18th 2005
From Geneva (GVA) 07:15
To Le Bourget (LBG) ? or divert ?
PIC – 'Volaille'
Right hand seat - 'Rasmus'
Preparing the Piper-Saratoga
Checking the map of Le Bourget airfield
We prepared the Piper-Saratoga. We asked the tower for take-off priority but didn’t have it of course. We waited and were put behind another light traffic and a BA 737 and an LX A320.
Basically to go from GVA to Paris you just need to pass the Jura mountain near GVA which tops approximately at 3900 feets and then no hills until Paris but just a flat scenery. It’s only when you arrive to the surroundings of Paris that things becomes a little complicated with the navigation due to several restrictions in that area of 'ile de France' (France Island literally).
GVA tower in the background
Before I knew it we soon found ourselves aligned on RWY05 and as soon as we received the take-off clearance max power was applied by 'Volaille'. We were a in a hurry to be in Paris before 0900am to say the least. After take-off we quickly turned left heading north towards the Jura mountain. The weather as mentioned before was just incredible, no clouds in sight, perfect visibility and the Piper-Saratoga was climbing very smoothly towards the 'Col de la Faucille' which is already in France. We then flew along the peak of the Saleve to gain altitude in order to pass over the mountain. The sight was just astonishing so I taped over some nice views there. While passing the mountains the flight became a little bumpy as usual and then very smooth again. We climbed to our cruise altitude of 7000 feets and the speed was about 150kts.
View of Lake Geneva
The Saleve Mountain
The Mont-Blanc, The highest mountain of Europe
Flying over the Saleve
Video Chapter 1 includes : Flight Preparation, Take-off RWY05 of Geneva and flight over the green Saleve Mountain.
Chapter 1 - GVA Departure Real Media Format (5.34 min / Size=18Mb)
Chapter 1 - GVA Departure Windows Media Format (5.34 min / Size=21Mb)
We passed the over Oyonnaz valley, Chalon-sur-Saône and Beaune (near Dijon). While passing near Auxerre we were told by ATC that it wasn’t possible to land at Le Bourget and we had to divert to another airport. Going to Le Bourget arriving by the 'big door' became impossible for us and we were a little bit disapointed at this stage.
We rapidly decided to divert to a small airfield at 23km east from the center of Paris called ‘Lognes-Emerainville’ (XLG-LFPL). We descended at 1500 feets gained speed (160kts) headed 340 degrees and passed right over the airfield before landing, this step is always good to do when it’s possible upon arriving in a unknown airport in order to do a visual-check of the airfield and the surroundings. We then proceeded to the final approach by turning left and aligned on RWY08 which is 700m/2300fts long. The touchdown was pretty hard and 'Volaille', said afterwards "That's a landing ! I’ve stopped in 400 meters !" (1300fts) 'Rasmus' said "Yeah ! The aircraft is just destroyed but" and Marc to add "Well, at least now we all know who’s gonna pay the beers !". 'Volaille' said that the short length of the runway didn’t allowed him to do a kiss landing this time (Yeah! Kiss my a**!!).
We used the GPS for navigation... the easy way !
Passing over l'Ain
The TGV (Stands for high-speed train in french)
Checking the map of Paris
Video Chapter 2 includes : Inflight over France (with the TGV) with music (Dire Straits), Approach and (hard)landing at Lognes, Paris and 'Volaille' & 'Rasmus' & 'Marc' imitating Swiss-German language in the Subway and singing!
Chapter 2 - Inflight/XLG Arrival Real Media Format (5.33 min / Size=18Mb)
Chapter2 - Inflight/XLG Arrival Windows Media Format (5.33 min / Size=21Mb)
We passed right over the airfield before landing
(hard)Landing at Lognes
In this small airfield we saw several light aircrafts, obviously the majority of them came for the Paris Air Show. There we met a guy who was there since a couple of days to attend the show. Let’s call him "the Englishman from Birmingham" as I don’t recall his name. He was a very nice old man, retiree and enjoying life flying over Europe from time to time. He told us to take the RER (Metro) to Chatelet-les-Halles and then change RER to head Le Bourget. We walked half an hour from the airfield to the RER. We chatted and laughed and had a very nice time with this old man and we learned that he was a member of a syndicate of Birmigham who owned the aircraft he was using. He showed us some films he did with his digicam during the past two days in Le Bourget and obviously we talked about the A380 and different other aircrafts of the show. When we arrived at Chatelet-les-Halles we thanked him for his help and we said good bye to each other. We went to a 'Café Parisien' to relax a bit in Chatelet before going to Le Bourget. Then I asked 'Volaille' to make some funny acting for the movie when we were in the Subway station and then he started to speak loudly like the Swiss-Germans (Don't take offence), and then sang a stupid french song. His voice reverberated all over the place and I taped it over
The RER was overcrowded, hot and humid. We started to talk loudly and everybody was looking at us. "Where do you come from ?" asked a lady, and we explained her we came from Geneva-Switzerland to what she replied "huhu. I thought the Swiss people where more serious and cold". Well, to be honest we didn’t came to Le Bourget to be serious and cold 'Volaille" replied. The suddenly 'Volaille' said out loud in the middle of the crowdy RER "So where’s that Airbus ?" to what all people laughed ! And he added "I want to buy one for my gardener" everybody was ROFL !
The Paris Air Show
We finally arrived at Le Bourget! As soon as we stepped in we headed to see the A380. And there he was... that thing is huge for sure ! But wasn’t as long as I expected, perhaps it was due to the fact that he is so big, but this plane has really something special. We loved to see it so close. We saw some officials descending the airplane from the front stairs and recognized the new french prime minister Dominique de Villepin accompanied by Noel Forgeard CEO of Airbus. Claude lelaie who was one of the pilot during the first flight in April 27th 2005 was also there and it was really nice to see this man. Of course I video taped all this.
Then we went to see the airplanes on static display. Among them was a A330-300 for Air Thaiti and the new B777LR. I was disapointed not to see the later on flight display, I would have loved to see it fly. We visited the small Boeing room near the B777LR were they were showing some B787 features. We walked around and went to the 'Hall Concorde', very nice. We then prepared ourselves to watch the Airbus presentation with the A318, A340-600 and A380-800. It’s always nice to see civil aircrafts doing 30 degree nose up for take-off and turning right after. The A340-600 presentation was breathtaking. People cheered when the A380 took-off. This bird takes all his dimensions up in the air. The engines are really quiet, very impressive. And when you see it on final for landing then you can see how big it is.
Finally... the giant of the skies. The A380 !
Claude Lelaie on the right
The new B777LR
Video Chapter 3 includes : A340-600, A340-300, B777LR and the A380 on static display with Claude Lelaie, Dominique de Villepin, Noel Forgeard.
Chap.3 - Le Bourget Static Display Real Media Format (4.27 min / Size=14Mb)
Chap.3 - Le Bourget Static Display Windows Media Format (4.27 min / Size=17Mb)
The Airbus A318, the smallest Airbus.
The breathtaking A340-600 flying display
Finally I see it up in the air !
Video Chapter 4 includes : A318, A340-600, A380 on flying display with some 'comments' made by 'Volaille' and 'Rasmus'.
Chapter 4 - Le Bourget Flying Display Real Media Format (3.39 min / Size=20Mb)
Chapter 4 - Le Bourget Flying Display Windows Media Format (3.39 min / Size=23Mb)
It was time for us to go home. We headed back to Chatelet-les-Halles with a less crowded RER and we took the time to go to a 'Café Parisien' near the 'Centre Pompidou' to take a beer and some coolings. We then realized how expensive Paris really is, I mean... we paid 8 Euros (9,7 USD$) a 'Menthe à l’eau' which is basically water with mint syrup ! This is just insane ! My friend literally cried when he urinated afterwards !
Paris to Geneva (The Return)
We then headed back to Lognes. We walked from the RER station to the airfield and when we arrived we relaxed a moment drinking a beer on the terrace. There we met four people from luxembourg, the oldest man was a B737 pilot retiree. They also went to the show and we talked about aviation and other stuff. Another guy showed us his plane-kit, he took three years to build an impressive small all white single prop aircraft (you can watch on the video chapter 5). We laughed togheter and we said goodbye to each other as it was time to fly back home again. Then just before stepin’ the aircraft we saw "the Englishman from Birmingham" again. We chatted a little about what we saw during the show before, had a laugh and we were go.
Taking the transport to our way back to Geneva
June 18th 2005
From Geneva (GVA) 18 :14
To Lognes Emerainville (XLG) 19 :48
PIC – ‘Rasmus’
Right hand seat - 'Al'
'Rasmus' has a strong Swiss-french accent. He asked for clearance and right after that we heard another voice asking for clearance also with a strong Swiss-french accent. We rapidly realized that it was in fact the B737 pilot retiree that we meet in the terrace before who was asking clearance with an exagerating imitation of 'Rasmus’s accent for joking. What a laugh ! We started the prop of the Piper-Saratoga and we waved for the last time to our friend the "Englishman from Birmingham" who was filming our departure from the field. We soon found ourselves aligned on RWY08, power was applied and 'Rasmus' used almost all the 700m/2300fts of the runway length for take-off. We headed towards BRY VOR and while climbing to 1500 feets we experienced some turbulences. Right after passing over BRY VOR we turned right heading to GVA and some minutes later we climbed to our cruise altitude of 7000 feets. The flight was very nice and smooth and the only problem we really faced during our journey back to GVA was the strong farts expelled from our beloved friend 'Volaille' who was living a rather difficult moment with his digestive system and wanted to share its odorous emissions with all of us in the cabin.
Entering the flight path in the GPS
Take-off, goodbye Paris !
To cruise altitude at FL070
Video Chapter 5 includes : View of Lognes airfield area with music (Air), "the Englishman from Birmingham", Take-off from Lognes.
Chapter 5 - Lognes Departure Real Media Format (5.10 min / Size=11Mb)
Chapter 5 - Lognes Departure Windows Media Format (5.49 min / Size=14Mb)
We had the great opportunity to watch the beautiful view of Geneva appearing behind the Jura mountain while passing over ‘Le Col de la Faucille’ in a sunny end of afternoon. We were cleared to make a direct approach of RWY05. I taped over all the approach and was lucky enough that RWY05 was the active so the sun was behind us and giving the scenery a great light, I’m very happy with the result. I finally have my nice approach of GVA on DVD ! The landing itself was a kiss landing by Mr 'Rasmus'. We then vacated RWY05 to the left and taxied towards the aeroclub and parked the aircraft. After cleaning the aircraft we went to drink several large beers in the bar right next to the aeroclub and we had a great time talking about that day we spent in Paris.
Passing over 'Col de la Faucille' with Geneva in the background
Aligned with RWY05
Seconds before touchdown
Video Chapter 6 includes : Passing over the Jura Mountain, Geneva Arrival and landing on RWY05.
Chapter 6 - Geneva Arrival Real Media Format (5.10 min / Size=18Mb)
Chapter 6 - Geneva Arrival Windows Media Format (5.10 min / Size=22Mb)
The two persons who didn’t came with us that day paid their part but I would have frankly liked to go with them or with two other people. One day before going to Paris I even proposed to a girl spotter near the fence of GVA RWY05 who I personnaly didn’t even know moments before to come with us ! We were so desperate to find two persons. But I understand that it could be a little weird to speak for the first time to a unknown person and then two minutes later he propose you to go to Paris to see the new Airbus and to pay for that. Well, in the other hand the passenger in the rear cabin had more legs room
We were lucky with the second problem we faced that day. Yes, we wasn’t allowed to land at Le Bourget but it turned out to be better to land in Lognes-Emerainville (XLG-LFPL) as the landing and handling fees were only 8 Euros compared to LBG (~150Euros). And yes, we wanted to enter by the 'big door' by landing directly in Le Bourget but the trip between the small airfield of XLG (LFPL) and Le Bourget was very cool indeed, we had a lot of fun despite the overcrowded RER, we met some very nice people and had good laughs with them as well and finally but not the least we had the great opportunity to pay 8 Euros a f*king mint syrup in Chatelet-les-Hall ! What could you ask more ?
The price for a day like that ? For the whole trip including the renting of the Piper-Saratoga, the fuel, landing and handling taxes fees we paid 130 Euros~160USD$, not included in the price was the ticket for the show (12 Euros), the meals and the drinks. I would say low cost regarding the conditions isn'it ?
The excuse of this trip was the A380 and to be honest we weren’t disappointed at all. I personnaly loved all aspects of the A380, before going to Paris I knew a lot about this aircraft already. I saw the unveiling in January, the first flight in April and thanks to the powerful tool called the web I’ve seen hundreds of photographs, lots of videos, and I read so much comments and descriptions on several forums. But nothing really compares to see it in front of your own eyes. We were also blown away by the A340-600 flying display, what a beautiful and elegant bird !
One thing comes to my mind, it’s great to be an aviation enthusiast today. It’s great to see what the industry does with this A380. I feel very happy to had the opportunity to see the first A380 fly.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this trip report as I enjoyed to write it despite my english errors and I hope you'll don't care.