A perfect day for flying, watching aircraft and getting yourself sun burnt.
Three air bases run this show on a rotational basis and the last time it was held here in Cambrai they had 35000 visitors. This year there must have been more as the place was packed.
It was not as commercial or large as Biggin Hill, but there again it only cost me 5€ to get in and that included the parking.
The only reason I knew that the event was taking place was because it was on JJ's school agenda for their two weeks of team building.
I arrived very early on and had little difficulty in finding JJ and his class amongst the crowd.
Jean-Jacques has always had an affinity with dogs and has considered trying to become a dog handler. One of his staff members is an ex-handler and he got us into good positions for the cynophile display just before lunch time.
I queried JJ for the position as it was a bit into the sun, but he assured me that we would see the most and he was right. I hate it when he is right !
I stayed with his class for a little longer as we looked at some of the static aircraft and JJ told me all about the previous few days activities. I then let them go for something to eat and with the swelling of the crowd I never saw him again.
The aerial displays were the usual mixture of slower but highly agile craft against the fighters with their incredible speed and deafening fly overs.
I find something quite fascinating in the sheer power of one of these jets roaring past, its after burners glowing orange.
We have fighters fly not only over the beach at Quend but also our house - sometimes at quite low levels. I now know which airbase they come from.
The evening before, France had beaten Brazil in the world cup and everybody was in a buoyed patriotic mood. When it came to the turn of the Patrouille de France to close the show every emission of blue, white and red smoke was greeted with cheers and applause.
Of course trying to get photos is very much hit and miss - mostly miss. You think that you have them in the viewfinder as they close in on the airfield but of course as they actually pass in front of you they seem to move faster than you can push the button on the camera.
Jean-Jacques was telling me afterwards that he spoke with some Americans in English so that his friend Stan could have a photo taken. What he didn't tell me was that he already knew his exam results. He was going to make me wait until he came home. Wee rascal.