Amazing Display of the Dassault Rafale

29 Mar 19 4 Comments

I’ve had a soft spot for the Dassault Rafale for a long time; I even included it in a short story under a slightly modified name and description. It’s a French twin-engine fighter which is so crazily agile that it’s aerodynamically unstable; digital fly-by-wire controls keep it under control. Designed to work with aircraft carriers, the Rafale’s landing speed is down to 115 knots and in simulations it was able to take off from a ski jump with no modifications. In flight testing, it has flown as fast as Mach 2 (1,322 knots) and as slow as 15 knots. And it’s gorgeous.

But now, this fantastic flying display of the Rafale at Le Breitling Sion Airshow in the Swiss Alps in 2017 has shifted my mild crush to active obsession.

It’s not just the aircraft that sets this video apart. The camera work is fantastic. Filming the display from the mountains above the airfield is genius. The cameraman did a great job of tracking every movement; there must have been a practice run because he knew exactly where the Rafale was going next.

And what a pilot! That circle to land starting at 07:15 where he extends the gear while upside down…wow! And right on the numbers. I don’t read French but there’s what seems to be an interesting interview with the pilot, in L’usine Nouvelle from around the time of the demonstration flight:

Mais qui est Babouc, le remplaçant de Marty aux manettes du Rafale solo display?

All I can say is that every landing from here on out is going to seem boring in comparison.

Category: Aerobatics,


  • Fascinating, I will watch it later.
    The Corvette that I flew was built by Aerospatiale in St. Nazaire. The instructors were very good, one of them to whom I was so lucky to be assigned was Robert Briot. He was absolutely prime of the prime.
    Later he came to Shannon for a few days and trained me up to be an instructor on the Corvette. There was no simulator for this aircraft, it all had to be done in the air.
    Briot showed me his licence.
    He had only one type rating, but that was the ultimate that any pilot can usually only dream of. His type rating said ‘Toutes avions’, ANY AIRCRAFT. I have seen a video when he tested a Mystere flighter jet. It was filmed from a chase aircraft. All I can say is: glad I was not in it.

  • Awsome indeed.
    The test that I referred to, the one that Briot carried out, had been something that had caused a few fighters to crash.
    I forgot exactly what it was, but the aircraft got into an unstable condition and swung violently from side to side, like a falling leaf. Eventually the engine stalled and on the film it was clearly visible that unburnt fuel came out of the intakes. Apparently once in that situation the pilot had to bail out – quickly. One or two who had not enjected quick enough apparently were knocked unconscious as their heads were bashed against the side of the cockpit.
    Briot started, I think, at 24000 feet (FL 240).
    If I remember it well, he lost more than 14000 feet before he recovered. So he was already below FL 100 and had only a very short time left to decide to eject. He was wearing a helmet with extra padding but managed to keep his head clear of the sides of the cockpit.
    Briot was the first, and possibly only test pilot who managed to bring the aircraft back under control and land it safely. His report enabled the manufacturers to make modifications to prevent this from happening.
    He also test flew Concorde and had to it bring it back single pilot in a simulated crew disabled test. The copilot and engineer left the cockpit and joined the engineering team in the cabin.
    Briot told me how he had to motor the seat back and forth. The cockpit was so narrow that the seats were electrically powered and ran on rails. it was virtually impossible to get in and out of the seat otherwise.
    The flight engineer operated the fuel panel, a critical job in Concorde. Briot had to put the aircraft on autopilot, motor back, adjust the engineer’s panel and motor back up to the flight controls under hilarious laughter from the other crew mambers.
    Concorde’s flight simulator had forward vision. This was not done with computer graphics, but with a camera that could move over an enormous mock-up or model of an airport and surroundings, complete with landscape. Vision was by a camera that sat on a gantry that could follow the computer’s commands to move over the landscape and film whatever happened. In otder to prevent a sudden “end of the world”, the edges were polished silver coloured and acted like a mirror.
    One day they had to break off the take-off because there was a monster sitting on the runway: a large fly was picked up in the camera’s vision and projected in enlarged size on the screen.
    The model was very large; in order to save room it was positioned vertically. For the camera it made no difference, the image was projected on a screen in front of the simulator correctly.
    I believe that this model is still in inexistence in a museum, possibly at Le Bourget.

  • Saw the Rafale display at Duxford a few years back , on the same day as the Typhoon , and I have got to say the Rafale display was far better , really showed how to display a top level fighter properly. Although quite similar to the Typhoon , it seemed so much more agile, and dare I say a much sexier looking aircraft !

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