A very unusual picture for 2020: remember the days when we all could just pack into one place without a care in the world? Well, this photo is from Zigermeet 2019, a very well-attended airshow.
A year ago, no one would ever have thought what changes COVID-19 would force upon us in 2020. The airshow industry was hit very hard, with nearly all American airshows being canceled, and only a handful able to adapt to a drive-in style which allowed for ample social distancing. And it sure will be interesting to see how the 2021 airshow season will look like. What will the new normal be? Maybe more of the drive-in style shows? Time will tell. But it will definitely be a while before we are back to the “good old days” of massive crowds all packed together.
Speaking of airshows, since I have not been able to attend a single airshow this year, let’s look back at an airshow I attended during my vacation in Switzerland last summer.
What exactly is the Zigermeet? It is the name of an airshow in Switzerland. Ziger is a byproduct from the process of making cheese. And meet, as in meeting or get together. The Ziger comes from the area of the Glarus Region in Switzerland, which is approximately a 65km or 40 mile drive south east of Zurich. The town of Mollis has an airport and that is where the Zigermeet 2019 airshow was held on August 16-17, 2019.
Many years ago the first Zigermeet airshow was a very small event, more like of a get together/fly-in of aviation enthusiasts. But over the years, the show kept growing, and with 2019 the Zigermeet became the largest airshow in Switzerland. Friday was considered a training day, with about 10,000 attendees, and Saturday was the main event day with 20,000 attendees.
Swiss F-5s fly during the 2018 Fliegerschiessen Axalp live fire demonstration.
This story is written by Jerry T. Lai. Jerry is a Chicago-based photojournalist who read our coverage of 2017’s Axalp show in Switzerland, and decided he had to make the trip to see it for himself. This is his story about the 2018 show – hope you enjoy it, and be sure to let us know if you decide to attend at some point, too!
We’re all AvGeeks here, but what really gets my heart pumping is fast jets at air shows and demonstrations. As someone based in Chicago, I’m spoiled with having the wonderful Chicago Air and Water Show in my backyard, as well as EAA AirVenture in nearby Oshkosh, and am a short flight away from many other fabulous official demonstrations like Fleet Week in SFO.
But there was one show I had somehow not ever heard of, until I read about right here on AirlineReporter: Fliegerschiessen Axalp. An air show that combines liberal use of flares, cannon fire, vapor, and set with a backdrop in the Swiss Alps? SIGN ME UP!
Parachuting, Swiss Army style.
A Northrop F-5E Tiger II of the Patrouille Suisse shows off some sexy paint
Axalp is, in my humble opinion, very likely the best air show on earth, although the Swiss Air Force will be quick to tell you that it’s not really an airshow, rather, it’s a live-fire training exercise to which the public is invited. It’s officially named Fliegerschiessen Axalp, which translates to Air Force Live Fire Axalp.
At precisely 2 p.m. (this is Switzerland after all), a pair of F/A-18s rocketed up the valley spitting flares, signifying that the demo had begun
It’s an exercise that’s held on top of a mountain in the Swiss Alps, uphill from the ski town of Axalp. Attendance requires getting to Switzerland, a long drive, a bus ride that’s almost as exciting as the show itself, a chairlift ride, then a hike up the last 1,000 vertical feet.