Patrouille Suisse Performs Over Wrong Town (Updated)


The Patrouille Suisse, a Swiss air force aerobatic demonstration team, performed a planned flyby over the wrong town last weekend. The team was scheduled to conduct the maneuver above Langenbruck, Switzerland, as part of a ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Swiss aviator Oskar Bider, who became the first man to cross the Alps in an airplane in 1913. Instead of making their planned appearance at the ceremony, the Patrouille Suisse accidentally performed the flyby over the 31st Northwest Yodeling Festival, which was taking place in Mümliswil, a town about four miles west of Langenbruck.

The Patrouille Suisse was founded in 1964 and currently flies Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs. A spokesman for the Swiss Defense Ministry said that the aircraft are not GPS-equipped and the team leader elected to perform the flyby after seeing the yodeling festival event area and mistaking it for the Langenbruck ceremony. According to AP News, the Swiss Defense Ministry further explained that the team hadn’t previously practiced the maneuver on location and were distracted by an unauthorized helicopter in the area. The Ministry reportedly apologized for the error and emphasized that the aircraft are not suitable for combat missions and are not used for them.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. This article left out a significant detail, namely that the safety zone of the Patrouille Suisse (sort of like a TFR) was penetrated by a civilian helicopter shortly before they arrived at the flyby area. This was pointed out to the team leader by ATC who was then looking to see the traffic which caused him to momentarily divert his attention from the flyby area.

    • “Looking to see the traffic” known to have been in his TFR should have oriented PSuisse Leader to the flyby area. But since they knew they were GPS-dependent why didn’t they have a GPS ? Certainly none among those aviators had a “Smart Phone” then ? (Note to self – check the .net for Patrouille Suisse selfies over Mumsliswil.) On a positive note, they were able to out-maneuver the helicopter.