Niergnies Tiger Meet Airshow 2011 Report

Sunday 15th May 2011

To mark both the 50th Anniversary of the first Tiger Meet and the closure of Cambrai, a special airshow was held on May 15th - the mid-point of the two week exercise - at nearby Niergnies airfield. Cold weather and poor light combined to spoil the spectacle but at least it stayed dry. What was originally advertised as a Tiger Meet airshow expanded into a nearly seven hour display of a variety of aircraft from a Morane Saulnier 317 to the Rafale, though it was the unique formations of a Mirage 2000 with the Patrouille de France and a formation of nine Tiger marked aircraft which were the highlights for many.

Michael Hall reports on the airshow to mark the 50th Anniversary of the NATO Tigers, with additional photos from Ian Matthews.

Divided into three segments, it was mainly French historic aircraft were predominant in the first part of the air display, while various miscellaneous airshow acts and display teams resumed after a short break to form the second chunk with final segment comprising contemporary military displays - mainly aircraft operating from nearby Epinoy.

A Piper J3 in tiger markings appropriately kicked off the show followed by a selection of aircraft including Potez 60, Tiger Moth, a team of four Druine Turbulents and the six Yak 50s of the Aerostars.The Breitling wing walking pair of Boeing Stearmans appeared unbothered by the gusty on-crowd crosswind conditions, performing a very tight display. Solo helicopter displays were flown by a Eurocopter Tiger and a Czech Hind with an EC145 of the Securite Civile performing a rescue demonstration, and a pair of Italian AB212s based at Grazzanise also displayed.

There was a steady stream of solo fast jet displays. A silver Vampire in French navy markings was followed the Golden Apple F-86A, resplendent in recently applied Tiger stripes in honour of pilot and guest of honour Cliff Spink, invited over by the NATO Tiger Association to join the anniversary celebrations as a former OC of the RAF's now disbanded Tiger unit, 74 Squadron. These were followed by a French Alpha Jet, Austrian Saab 105, Swiss Hornet, Slovak MiG 29 and a French Rafale.

The flying programme was brought to a close by the Patrouille de France performing to their usual standard.