Fête de l’Air 2014

Lens-Benifontaine, 17-18 May 2014


Apart from the French air force airshows, there are also plenty of civilian shows taking place in France. Many of these are free-of-charge, including the show held in northern France at Lens-Bénifontaine, a grass strip near this major city in the French department Pas-de-Calais.


More than 60000 people attended the Fête de l’Air at Lens on 18 May, an organization by Régis Grébent with a small army of volunteers. The theme of the show was French-Belgian friendship. Many of the participants had a connection to Belgium.


The show was supported by the French and Belgian military. Some additional depth to the theme came from civilian aircraft in the flying display, with one particular Super Cub, formerly in Belgian army service, hiding its Belgian connection rather well wearing an American paintscheme.


On Saturday, there was a media and spotters day, and local clubs were invited to the airfield for special photo opportunities. In the evening, Lens hosted the first French sunset airshow, the highlight of which was the Twister duo from the UK lighting up the sky with their pyrotechnics. The finale of the evening show were hot air balloons lighting up to the Carmina Burana.


The fries were in great demand, appropriate for a show with a Belgian theme, as were the drinks stands, particularly as Sunday saw scorching weather necessitating regular fluid ingestion.



One item in the flying display stood out in particular: A pair’s routine of the Belgian air force F-16 solo display together with the French air force Rafale, a one-off for Lens, even if a preview had taken place during the rehearsals at the Radom airshow in 2013. Lens was also a rare opportunity to a Rafale M in the air during an event, as the French navy doesn’t appear to be a regular participant at airshows.


Lens-Bénifontaine was a good start of the 2014 airshow season, with a lot of variation and excellent photo opportunities, most definitely during the Sunset Airshow.