I can’t explain to you how excited I was to be here in Paris again on Bastille Day, sitting in front of the Louvre, waiting for the flyovers from the French Armée de l’Air. Why so excited? Because it’s awesome. You can stand awywhere, all the way from the Arc de Triomphe, all the way down to the Louvre, and watch scores of fighters, bombers and more zip by directly above you.
Due to the ill-timed thunderstorm last year, I wound up about 10 minutes late to the show. So I made a point of getting to the Louvre about a half-hour early this time around. Not only was it a beautiful day, but the clouds were wild – worthy of pictures themselves. Combined with all the planes, I knew I would get some sweet shots. So I set my camera at a high enough speed to catch the planes blur-free and stared at the horizon, until I could see the first wisps of blue, white and red smoke trailing the lead planes (above). But that was just the start!
And the above photo was just the end . . . cause these shots are in no particular order I just thought this plane looked pretty fancy. Not sure what military service it could provide. “Hey, Germany, get ready to be destroyed by out festively decorated prop planes!”
On the other hand, the below Rafale fighter jet would seriously cause trouble for someone. I’m not saying France should mess Germany up with some of these guys and a few bombers, but after seeing what the Nazis did to Reims and other cities/towns throughout France . . . I wish planes like this had been Allied-Forces-only material about 70 years ago.
Speaking of World War II, I thought the shot below looked pretty “Pacific Theatre” . . .
Awesome . . .
The below might be my favorite photo from the whole set. There’s something not too subtly Apocalyptic about the silhouette of black jets zipping through the sky. Hopefully there’s never a military-driven nuclear holocaust, where bombers and fighters race through the blue to obliterate cities and one another . . . but, if that does happen, I imagine it will look something like this.
The last time I ever saw military jets in action was 2004. It was the day of Ronald Reagan’s funeral, but early in the morning before the event had begun. I was walking back from the grocery store to my apartment. I remember the sound of a jet sounding inappropriately low the ground, approaching very quickly. At first I though it was a commercial jet, which being downtown in Washington DC and having lived there since before 9/11, was not, uh . . . encouraging. But then I looked up and saw an F-15 race by, followed by another. I got home and was soon seeing on the news how some dummy had from flown into restricted airspace and almost got blown out of the sky. Oops.
Hey, look, it’s those festive planes again!
A little bird was very inspired by the jets, so he decided to fly into the frame. Please not that the bird is much closer to the camera, so he doesn’t actually have a 15 metre wingspan, as you might have at first suspected
Sweet . . .
It’s like that Chris Isaak video for “Wicked Game”, except instead of volcanic steam it’s French clouds . . . and instead of a topless Helena Christensen, it’s airplanes . . .
The guy in the center did a quick barrel-roll way after the Louvre. Almost no one saw it, but this shot catches the start of his turn.
Again, just another fun shot. It looks like the planes have been shot and are plummeting to Earth.
Spooky . . .
Here are the same jets from the start, but now in a heavily altered photo. It kind of looks like they’re zipping from clouds and into a galactic nebula.
And we conclude another normal color shot of the lead jets, all arrange almost perfect spaced in the sky. If they composed the layers of a pastry, Sadaharu Aoki might wince at how imperfect their arrangement was. But, given that they’re going a couple hundred kilometers/hour and are just metres from one another, I think they’ve done an amazing job!
So there you go – the airshow from Bastille Day. When I visit France next year, I think I’m going to head back to the U.S. just a few days before July 14th, so I’m glad I was able to capture the planes when the sky was so amazing. Truly a cool experience. Vive la France!