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The '18th Meeting Aérien International' 14th September, 2008, in Roanne, Roannais, Rhône-Alpes.
Yet another incredible show for the Roannais region, and the historic Roanne Aerodrome.
Yes, with those "Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines!". Well, Lucy certainly thought so!
What with all these powerful beasts of machines in the sky, ridden by young, experienced 'cavalier', pilots pressing all the right buttons!! Lucy could not help herself from being enthralled, excited.
What a day out! Despite the previous day of stormy, cold, rainy weather (which portents the seemingly swift arrival of Autumn), and the heavy, early morning clouds which seemed to suggest a complete 'wash-out' for the event, we decided to go, and risk it.
Like somebody 'upstairs' waving a magical wand the clouds cleared, the sun shone brightly, and the whole day turned into one of those unexpectedly special ones, to be engraved in the memory for all time.
We parked up in a muddy field at Roanne aerodrome, and headed for the centre of activities – marquees, tents, stalls, fun games for the kids, and, of course, all the various planes and flying machines parked in anticipation.
And, of course, this anticipation kept growing as we excitedly waited for the Red Arrows to contribute majestically to the opening of the days events. There were, however, several aerobatic displays before the 'Big British Boys' arrived.
One, in particular, touched our hearts and emotions, and this was an incredible, heart-warming display by a glider.
High up in the windy sky, streaming smoke in it's ballet-like path to classical music, this 'planeur symphonie le Swift', was just an incredibly beautiful, professional, and silent display which brought Lucy to real tears!
In stark contrast to the powerful roaring speed of the Red Arrows which eventually arrived (on exact cue, I might add!), and made us proud to be British amongst the local French! They brought a lump to our throats.
They were simply fantastic, and the whole watching crowd were in rapturous applaud.
We were in awe of them, and our 7 year-old son, Ellis, thought he was living and breathing a live video game! He loved it!
The backdrop of it all was also incredible – set in part of the Vallée de Roanne with the Monts de la Madeleine lit up by the sunlight in an azure blue sky.
The hillside habitants of the Cote Roannaise were having a fun day, too, with high front-row view, watching such a marvellous event while sat with family and friends eating their Sunday lunch!
After the Red Arrows had speedily departed in a flourish of red, white and blue smoke, there was still much more to come, and, much more around to see.
It was a great event, and organised, as we have come to expect of the French, in a professional, and easy-going way.
There were lots of people, but not dramatically overcrowded. We had a ringside view of all the air displays, and, at certain moments, you felt VERY close to the planes whizzing by.
It was also great to see them moving past in front of us to their take-off positions, with the pilots and co-pilots waving across to the crowd as they went by.
It's a serious 'game', however, flying about high in the sky. Fear and Danger seemed to lurk in every aspect of the aerobatic displays. The adrenalin-rush was, in some ways, being passed from high-flyer to on-the-ground, low-watcher!
We were full of admiration for the skill, and dare-devilishness of the pilots.
One or two of them women! Not that I'm chauvinistic or anything – just that I admire their guts! And, of course, their skill and brilliance in the sky.
Relief, too, wasn't far away, when the individual performances were completed, and the planes came back safely to terra-firma.
Presentations and performances representing the second world war – the majestic British Spitfire and Japanese A6M Zero ( built by Mitsubishi and Nakajima) – all with explosives and mock gunfire!
Some of the planes were celebrities! It was announced over the tannoy system that they had also featured in various movies, such as Steven Speilberg's "Indiana Jones' movies, and 'Casablanca', and 'Apocalypse Now'.
It was a full day – we were there for over 7 hours! Lucy got a burnt face! That's what you get when you oggle at 'Real Men' who are in full control of their destinies!
The various group displays and individual performances just kept coming, and coming. It was certainly great value for money.
There was a fantastic series of displays, with superb acrobatic performances, as well as the incredible, big fighter formation flying by The Red Arrows, Patrol Jordanians, Breitling, and a brilliant finale by the French Fighter Patrol – 'Symbole du savoir-faire aeronautique' of France.
It was an absolute success, once again, with over 10,000 people attending.
There is no doubt that if you ever get the chance to see this formidable local show here in the Roannais you just have to go – it's a great family fun-day out !