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French Aerobatics Team to Twirl, Spin Skyward in Capital

Beijing residents will see a heart-stopping aerobatics show in the capital's skies this Autumn.

The French aerobatics team Patrouille de France in their Alpha jet twin-engine training and attack aircraft will paint Beijing's skies on October 9 and 10.

It is a demonstration dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between France and China, Girbe Jean-Marc, commanding officer of the team, said yesterday on a visit to Beijing.

China and France set up diplomatic relations on January 27, 1964.

Jean-Marc and his colleagues are here discussing the details of the aerobatics show.

It is reported that the official launch of the "Year of France" Festival in China will begin with an aerobatic display by the Patrouille de France, overseen by French President Jacques Chirac, who will be visiting Beijing in October.

The event will be featured in a live television broadcast here.

"It is our honor to be a part of the celebration," said Jean-Marc.

It is the first time for the French professional aerobatic team to perform in China.

After Beijing, the team will head to Wuhan, Zhuhai and Hong Kong. As France's official "Flying Ambassadors of Friendship," the Salon de Provence-based aerial performers have flown some 2,000 times since the ensemble was established in 1953.

It is one of the oldest full-time military aerobatic teams. Nine pilots (eight performers and one reserve pilot) and 35 engineers form the group, perform an average of 40 shows yearly, mostly in Europe.

Their routine is full of grace and flair and they are rated as one of the top three teams in Europe, along with British "Red Arrows" and Italian "Frecce Tricolori."

This time, they will display a program featuring a dynamic combination of constantly changing formations, as the pilots weave wonderful forms such as loops and crossings.

The aircraft take off and join up together in close formation, maneuvering between 120 and 300 knots, changing formations in each figure flown.

(China Daily July 23, 2004)

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