High flyers in Cody

Eight jets stopped for fuel and their pilots had a briefing at the Yellowstone Regional Airport on Tuesday morning.

Heading west to Seattle from an air show in Milwaukee, Wis., the Breitling Jet Team is on a 20-stop tour of the U.S. and Canada. 

“Their stop was to refuel on their way to Seattle and to have a final briefing to prep for a photo op,” said Joel Simmons, director of Operations for Choice Aviation at the Cody airport. “They are the world’s largest private civilian flight team and use these air shows as recruiting tools.”

Seven jets will fly in patterns to make the team formations, and the eighth plane will be used for capturing both videos and still photos, he said. The eighth jet also serves as spare aircraft during the air shows, he added.

As part of the French-based private aviators’ tour, the aerobatic jet team also flew over Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks Tuesday afternoon. As long as aircraft are 2,000 feet above the ground, anyone can fly over a national park, Simmons noted.

Sponsored by Swiss watchmaker Breitling, the jet team flies within 10 feet of each other while going faster than 400 mph, the jet team’s website says.

Because the Breitling jet team is known worldwide, giving more than 50 performances, he said, they can hand-select their cities.”

The Breitling team puts on about a dozen air shows each year in the U.S., mostly back East, Simmons said. The Seattle stop will be Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1-2, at the Boeing Seafair Airshow.

The idea for having private  air shows with jets is a trend that’s catching on, Simmons also said. 

And while a private jet demonstration team is expensive to book, he foresees the day when such an air show will be staged at the annual Air Fair, which will be in Cody this weekend.

“The Air Fair will grow as the years come, and we could potentially see having a military-sanctioned team like the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds here,” Simmons said referring to the U.S. Navy and Air Force aerobatic jet teams respectively. The military teams would be less costly, he said.


(Janice Downey can be reached at janice@codyenterprise.com.)

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