This is what greeted us at the military base of Mont-de-Marsan:
But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's back-track a bit to that morning. We were all super stoked to fly to a military base. This was a first for me. Naturally, I had never flown into a military base in the US before either. The morning of the 21st, we ate breakfast and met in the big hangar for our morning weather briefing. They had given us our route the night before, and so our flight planning was already half complete. The trick in transporting 60 light aircraft as quickly and safely as possible from one airport to another was to assign everyone an order based on TAS (aircraft true airspeed) and have each plane take-off in 3 min intervals. They also assigned us transponder codes and we had our "HOP! Tour" frequency of 123.55 Mhz.
|Weather (Météo) Briefing|
Another interesting tidbit-- in France, the controllers aren't as busy as over in the US. So, when you first call them up you say (as an example) "Francazal, Fox Golf November X-ray Tango, Bonjour" and wait for them to call you back before you give them more information. That goes for all ATC: AFIS, Tower, Center, etc. It's a courtesy to say "Bonjour," and it's just how they do it over there. Also, I was told to say "Fox" rather than "Foxtrot." Must be too hard to pronounce in French, ha.
|My lil plane on a military base|
We landed at Mont-de-Marsan after a 1.8 hour flight. After finishing the paperwork (welcome to the world of aviation) I ate lunch and chatted with my fellow pilots as we waited for the rest to trickle in. During all this, there were no less than 10 Rafales and a couple Mirage 2000s taking off for their scheduled practice flights. So cool!
Once everyone arrived, there were a few presentations about the Armée de l'air (French Air Force) and we got to get up close and personal with a Rafale and Mirage 2000E.
We were scheduled to depart the next day, so around 1700h we had our flight briefing and a bit of time to start flight planning. The rest of the evening consisted of cocktails, speeches, then supper. No liquor for us bleus, however, because it was prohibited during the Tour.
Next airport: Niort