Confusion as Swiss air force flies over the wrong festival

The Patrouille Suisse in action, January 2019. © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

A Swiss aerial display team missed the target of their flyover on Sunday afternoon by some six kilometres. The army said the mistake was “not a worrying one”.

This content was published on July 8, 2019

The Patrouille Suisse – the red and white squadron that flies in formation over special events – was eagerly, and in vain, awaited by residents of Langenbruck (Canton Basel Country) on Sunday.

Instead of passing over a gathering to mark the centenary of the death of local aviation pioneer Oskar Bider, the planes flew over a yodelling festival in nearby Mümliswil.

According to a ministry of defence spokesman, the team leader spotted the large white tent of the yodelling get-together and, assuming it was the target, flew overhead. An unauthorised helicopter in the area added to the confusion.

The machines being used – F-5E Tiger II jets – aren’t equipped with GPS devices, the ministry added; they are over 40 years old and no longer used in real combat situations.

“Navigation is done on the basis of a map, a pen, and human sight,” the spokesman said.

The commander of the aerial display team apologised for the mix-up on Monday.

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